Mohun Bagan enjoyed a comfortable outing at the Salt Lake Stadium against a lackluster Salgaocar side, and could have easily scored half a dozen if not for Karanjit...
Mohun Bagan returned to winning ways, after the stalemate against ONGC, as they beat Salgaocar FC 3-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium with goals from Denson Devadas( 5th minute) , Odafa Okolie (19th minute) and Stanley Okoroigwe (61st minute).
Mridul Banerjee opted to start with the same team that was held by ONGC FC in the last round of the I-League, with Stanley Okoroigwe playing a roving role behind skipper Odafa Okolie. Jewel Raja and Denson Devadas were expected to patrol the midfield and mop up any opposition forays.
David Booth too made no changes to the team that was narrowly defeated by Churchill Brothers with Sean Rooney as the lone striker upfront supported by Quinton Jacobs.
The home team almost found the net in the second minute of the match, when Stanley Okoroigwe broke brilliantly down the right before finding Odafa Okolie with an acute pass. The Nigerian wasted too much time and his shot was blocked thereafter.
Just three minutes later, a Snehashish Chakrabarty corner-kick was headed towards goal by Nirmal Chettri before Aibor Khongjee toe-poked it towards Denson Devadas who rose brilliantly to head the ball into the net inspite of being surrounded by two defenders.
In the eighth minute, Salgaocar FC would be unlucky that they had not equalised as Sean Rooney found himself with acres of space, beating the offside trap and his swerving shot beat Shilton Paul all ends up but could not beat the right post.
Just about five minutes later, Quinton Jacobs almost got lucky from nowhere as his intended cross almost sneaked underneath Shilton who was saved from an embarrassment.
Mohun Bagan doubled their lead through Odafa Okolie as a Denson Devadas' long ball saw him evade Rahul Kumar and Luciano Sobrosa with ease, and scored The Mariners' second in the 19th minute.
In the 26th minute Stanley was at it again as his delightful through-ball found Syed Rahim Nabi on the right, who crossed into the box for Odafa whose heavy first touch meant that he couldn't add to his tally of goals.
A neat play between Biswajit Saha and Snehasish Chakraborty on the right meant that the latter had space to cross but Odafa’s header sailed high over the bar just after the half hour mark.
It was Syed Rahim Nabi, in the first half injury time, saw his volleyed effort from the edge of the box being blocked by Sobrosa.
Sixteen minutes into the second half and the home side extended their lead as Odafa held the ball brilliantly before sliding it for to an onrushing Nabi who ran past Collin Abranches with ease. He rolled the ball for Stanley to tap in, who did well despite being off balance.
Just two minutes later, Odafa showed tremendous strength to shield the ball as he ran past Rahul Kumar, but the angle was too narrow for him and Karanjit could collect easily.
It was Nirmal Chettri, the Bagan centre-back, who had a potshot at goal, such was the home team’s dominance. It was Nabi’s turn next to miss as he made a hash of an open header from a Snehasish Chakraborty free-kick on the far post.
As Mohun Bagan were barraging Salgaocar with chance after chance, Karanjit had to be alert as he tipped a ball wide from a Nirmal Chettri header from yet another corner, which came in thick and fast giving the Salgaocar defense no time to breathe.
Salgaocar’s best chance came in the half came in the 74th minute, as Milagres Gonsalves freed himself from his marker and was about to pull the trigger, but a timely intervention by Aibor Khongjee meant that Shilton still had a clean sheet.
In the 76th minute, Stanley's long ball to Odafa found the latter in acres of space and with only Karanjit to beat, he shot it wide, much to the amazement of the Bagan bench and his team-mates.
Nicolao Colaco failed to clear a Devadas cross and the ball fell to Odafa and his heavy first touch allowed the Salgaocar custodian to avert the danger.
Odafa was in the thick of things yet again, as he dribbled past three players but again a poor touch before he could finally pull the trigger, meant that the chance was wasted.
Just three minutes before regulation time, it was the Nigerian again who dribbled past the Salgaocar centre-backs. His eventual shot was parried away by Karanjit Singh only as far as Stanley who tried a bicycle kick with his back to goal. Fortunately for Salgaocar, the ball sailed just wide.
On the break, Francis Fernandes ran down the right flank, and with only Shilton in his path, he smashed it high and wide which summed up the away team's performance in the match and especially in the second half, where they went missing.
With the win, Mridul Banerjee signs off in style having won two and drawn one of his three matches in charge as he hands over the reins to former Salgaocar coach Karim Bencherifa. David Booth meanwhile has lot to think as he has lost his two matches in charge.