I-League comment: Five things we learned from Round 15

Goal.com looks back at all the 6 matches played on matchday 15 and lists down the main 5 lessons that the I-League followers learned last weekend....
The I-League remained as unpredictable as ever in matchweek 15, with title contenders East Bengal and Pune FC faltering against ONGC and Prayag United respectively. Churchill Brothers took full advantage of this opportunity to cement their place at the top of the table.

3 seemed to be the favoured number of the round, as 3 games ended in a win, while equal number of games ended in a draw. Similarly, clean-sheets were registered in 3 of the encounters in a week which saw movement at both, the top and bottom halves of the table.

Prayag United are the giant-killers of the league

While the club officials would have liked to see the Kolkatan outfit fight for the league title, Eelco Schattorie’s side have become spoilers for sides in the hunt for the Championship.

This matchweek saw Pune FC join Dempo SC and East Bengal on the list of sides who have fallen to Prayag United in Kolkata.

Prayag United ended Pune FC's unbeaten run

Schattorie’s side showed great organization and creativity against the Red Lizards, who as always, gave nothing away. Lalkamal Bhowmick’s wonder-strike though was good enough to win any game and having Ranti Martins upfront always gives a side the chance to win games.

If the team could sort out the inconsistency in their results, they would be a force to reckon with.

Efficient Churchill Brothers emerge as title favourites

When the season was set to begin, most ruled out the chances of the Red Machines mounting a title challenge, having lost stalwarts like Gouramangi Moirangthem, Arindam Bhattacharya and Lalrindika Ralte amongst others, during the summer.

Churchill Brothers are the team to beat

However the Goans made a couple of brilliant foreign acquisitions, as Bilal Najjarine and Akram Moghrabi joined Beto and Henry Antchouet on the foreign roster.

The quartet have dragged the side all the way to the top, with players like Bineesh Balan and Bikramjit Singh also growing in their roles for the side. The depth of the squad remains questionable, and it is to be seen if they can keep the momentum going for the entire campaign once the AFC Cup campaign begins.


North-East duo set for a relegation scrap

On a 7 match win-less streak, Lajong are sinking, and sinking fast. They are only above fellow North-East strugglers United Sikkim FC.

While Desmond Bulpin remains a highly accomplished coach, it is debatable whether the side has the tools to match his more direct style of football. With a tight budget and restrictions on the area from which they can pick their players, the Englisman has had to blood several youngsters.

Lajong need to up their game to avoid relegation

The Snow Lions meanwhile look ill-fitted for the top tier, and have never really recovered after the 10-1 thrashing against Prayag United. Their only win came in their very first game of the I-League against Salgaocar FC and they have been winless since.

Porous at the back, a return to the second division looks a bigger possibility with every passing gameweek.


Santosh Kashyap restoring his reputation at ONGC

When Kashyap took over the reins at ONGC, it looked like the Oilmen were destined for the drop, with an average squad at his disposal and chaos off the field impacting their results.

However, just like with Air India, Kashyap has worked virtual miracles with ONGC, as they now sit at 7th on the table.

Santosh Kashyap - restoring lost reputation

The team is unbeaten in six games, having garnered 12 points during the time. While far from being completely safe, they definitely have a good chance of avoiding the drop now.


Andrew Barisic cannot join soon enough for East Bengal

The Red and Gold drew another blank against ONGC, succumbing to a 1-0 loss. While their defense remains formidable, it is easy to see where the issue lies with the Kolkata based outfit.

Upfront, they never really managed to replace Tolgay Ozbey. While Chidi Edeh has scored 10 goals, his finishing is largely hit-and-miss, which has proven to be detrimental for the side in games decided by a single goal.

Barisic will be key to East Bengal

Robin Singh has been gradually re-introduced into the side, and is still finding his feet. Manandeep Singh has largely been disappointing while Baljit Sahni has been either injured or out of favour.

Having scored more than one goal just 5 times this season, of whom only Churchill Brothers could be counted as a formidable opponent, extra bite is needed upfront.

Trevor Morgan shall be hoping that Barisic proves to be the answer to their problems, and guides them to the league title, which is an attainable target.

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