Amidst a clutch of chances missed by the Red and Gold, Eelco Schattorie's men stole a point from Armando Colaco's side...
East Bengal and United SC drew 1-1 in a round eleven I-League encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday evening. Chidi Edeh's 32nd minute goal was cancelled out by Dhanachandra Singh in the second half.
Shylo Malswamtulunga was included in the starting eleven by Armando Colaco as Mehtab Hossain was ruled out with an injury.
Eelco Schattorie opted for Souvik Chakraborty in the central midfield with Hasan Moustafa partnering him in a defensive role..
The Red and Gold brigade got out of the block quicker of the two sides and pressed the opposition relentlessly without allowing them time to settle on the ball. After Anupam Sarkar had fouled Edeh Chidi just on the edge of the box, Lalrindika Ralte almost opened the scoring with a free-kick which beat the wall and struck the post.
United SC could have struck on the break when Deepak Mondal crossed from the right, but Ranti Martins' header went straight to Abhijit Mondal, who held it comfortably.
In the 23rd minute, there was controversy galore as Chidi Edeh was brought down inside the box by Ishan Debnath after Naoba Singh had played him through with a speculative long ball. Although there was contact, the referee deemed it as simulation, booking the Nigerian much to the distraught of the East Bengal faithful.
Anupam Sarkar avoided a certain send off after he lunged in from behind on Chidi in spite of being on a booking. Although Chidi wasted the ensuing free-kick, two minutes later he got his name on the scoreboard. After another speculative ball by Arnab Mondal was headed on to Chidi's path by Saumik Dey, the Nigerian turned Anupam inside out before shooting calmly past the goalkeeper.
United SC equalised in similar fashion to Armando's troops' opening goal. Souvik Chakraborti was tasked with taking the corner. His delivery was deep in the box and was somehow headed in by the diminutive Dhanachandra Singh. Curiously he was being marked by probably the tallest player on the pitch, Uga Okpara but his leap eluded the Nigerian.
It could have been even better for Eelco's men soon after as Snehasish Chakraborty found Ranti Martins in the box with a good cross. However, although the Nigerian was given space to turn his eventual shot was blocked by Uga Okpara, thus averting the danger.
East Bengal had two half chances in the 70th minute but both were wasted due to substitue Baljit Singh Sahni's apparent sloppiness. First he failed to get on the end of a cross from Lobo who ran from his own half and secondly he failed to anticipate Edeh Chidi who had passed it to him.
East Bengal then had two gilt edged chances in the 78th minute. First it was Sueoka again who was the culprit after Ralte had seized on a poor clearance by Bello Rasaq. Although he brought it down brilliantly with his head, his shot was smashed over the bar. This was then followed up by probably the most clear cut chance of the match.
Naoba Singh had run the length of the pitch sliding it to new man, Seimnlen Doungel who shrugged off the attention of Dhanachandra Singh. Doungel put a lovely ball across the face of the ball and it was only known to Baljit Singh who failed to shoot past Ishan Debnath.
In the melee the ball did come back to Edeh Chidi, giving the Red and Golds a second chance. The Nigerian however somehow made a hash of it from close range, smashing it against the crossbar when he could have placed it on either side of the keeper.
Just before this, United SC too missed a chance on either end, this time from another long ball which was intelligently left by Ranti Martins, allowing Rafique a crack at goal. However, he smashed it over having opted for power over finesse.
Amidst relentless attempts by East Bengal to get the winner, United SC somehow held on, securing a point against their much fancied rivals.
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