Eelco Schattorie's men wasted some great chances before the prolific striker struck late on to break Mariners' hearts...Prayag United drew 1-1 with Mohun Bagan in an I-League round 18 match played at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.
Tolgay Ozbey scored in the 49th minute to hand the Mariners the lead but Ranti Martins rescued a point for the hosts in the 89th minute.
Both sides came into this game in search of the all important three points. Bagan boss Karim Bencharifa would have been looking for an improved performance following the disappointing 0-0 draw against United Sikkim. On the other hand, Prayag United needed a result to bounce back from that demoralising defeat at the hands of Mumbai FC.
Both teams were cautious during the early proceedings, but it was the visitors who settled quicker and as such, it was no surprise when the afternoon’s first real chance fell their way. Midfielder Quinton Jacobs found Tolgay Ozbey in the box with a lovely ball, but Prayag stopper Bello Rasaq did just about enough to deny the striker a clear shot on goal.
It seemed like that was just the wake-up call Schattorie's side needed, as they hit back with two good opportunities of their own. First in 23rd minute Kayne Vincent found strike partner Ranti Martins, but the otherwise reliable frontman shot wide from close range. Then just after the half hour mark, it was Vincent’s turn to fluff his lines, after being put through on goal, thanks to a pinpoint through ball by C.K Vineeth.
This was a phase of the game where the chances were coming thick and fast and Ozbey should have put Bagan ahead in the 36th minute, when after some good build up play he was left one-on-one with Sangram Mukherjee in the Prayag goal but failed to apply the finish. Overall both teams would have been disappointed as they went into the break with nothing to show for all their efforts.
At the start of the second period it was still anybody’s game, but the visitors had a greater need for the points given their current predicament and they ceased the initiative when Ozbey gave them the lead just 4 minutes after the restart. Once again the Mariners worked the ball nicely in the middle of the park before influential midfielder Syed Nabi picked out Tolgay who this time made no mistake with an accurate left footed shot.
That much-needed opener sparked more life into the game and Eelco Schattorie’s side had quite a few opportunities to even up matters but they came up against an in-form Arindam Bhattacharya, who was determined to preserve a precious lead for his side.
With one-third of the game left to be played, the visitors were dominating possession, but they failed to create too many clear cut opportunities to put the game to bed and they would eventually pay a heavy price for it when Martins rescued a point for Prayag in the dying moments of regulation time.
After some patient build up play, the ball was at the striker’s feet and he took on a shot from close range which would have gone just wide of the post but for an unfortunate deflection off defender Nirmal Chettri, which sent the ball into the net to break the Mariners’ hearts.
Although, they eventually nicked a point, the hosts will be disappointed not to have got all three on the balance of play, over the 90 minutes. For Mohun Bagan, the result represents another priceless two points dropped in an already lopsided battle to avoid relegation.
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