Arthur Papus's men were left empty-handed as an excellent performance by skipper Sanju Pradhan gave Kolkata giants 3 deserved points...
Having lost 3 of their last 4 matches in all competitions, this was an important game for East Bengal to stay firm on their I-League hunt. Trevor Morgan made a few changes in the first team. Abhijit Mondal was back between the bars, replacing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, whose performance against Mumbai FC last weekend left much to be desired. Robert Lalthlamuana was brought in at left back for Soumik Dey. Naoba Thokchom was also dropped and Harmanjot Khabra was given the responsibility to play at right back and occasionally overlap to help upfront. The British coach stressed on wing play today bringing in young prospect Lalrindika Ralte in place of regular Ishfaq Ahmed. Captain Sanju Pradhan and Robin Singh also made it to the first XI.
These changes ensured that the I-League contenders started with a positive mindset and were trying to get the goal at the earliest. The team started off well,with their trademark passing football. Chidi Edeh was the
first to hit the post in the 8th minute. East Bengal then got many similar chances, but most of them were seen off by the Pailan defense.
It was a bad day at office for the Pailan team as their defender Deepak Devrani had to be substituted in the 2nd minute due to an injury. Nevertheless, the side fought well against East Bengal until they conceded the first goal. Robin Singh got on the score sheet first, when he placed a loose ball into the net in the 43rd minute. The goal, just before the half time, worked as a tonic for Morgan’s side.
The Pailan side looked out of ideas in the second half. Alwyn George and Holicharan Narzary were trying to find a way past the East Bengal defense but were left frustrated by the lacklustre performance of their midfield. George also missed an open net when he had intercepted a clearance by Abhijit Mondal. The Indian international, Raju Gaikwad looked nervous as he gave the opponents a few half chances. Arnab Mondal, the other central back, though was exceptional and ensured that East Bengal finished with a clean-sheet.
Sanju Pradhan had showed some glimpses of his skill and mesmerized the audience with a few solo runs down the right flank in the first half. However, he looked unstoppable in the second half, tackling and passing the ball with elegance. His first goal came in the 55th minute, as he shot from the edge of the box after a great bitof dribbling. His second was even better as his volley from outside the box made it 3-0 for his side.
Arthus Papas’s boys couldn’t impress at all in today’s match. The side couldn’t create many good openings in the whole match as Abhijit Mondal hardly had any tense moment.
This win takes Morgan’s side back into the title-race as Morgan's tactical changes worked. The formation was different today and for the first time in this year’s edition, East Bengal played two positive wingers dropping defensive midfielders like Ishfaq. Having Ralte in the team also ensured that they could bring in more variety in the set pieces and someone was there to relieve Mehtab from the responsibility. Robin Singh also took advantage of staring in place of Manandeep. Most importantly for the British coach, the team played good football after a few weeks.
After this loss, Pailan now has 14 points from their 12 games, having lost their last 3 games.
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