Mohun Bagan finally welcomed back skipper Odafa Okolie to the fold as he started upfront alongside Australian Tolgay Ozbey, while new foreign recruit, Quinton Jacobs found a place in the bench. Syed Rahim Nabi returned to his familiar left back position after being used as a striker by coach Karim Bencherifa.
Meanwhile Santosh Kashyap's ONGC, who are still undefeated under the former Air India coach, went with a 4-5-1 formation with Kailash Patil the lone man forward, while the attacking impetus would be provided by Katsumi Yusa and Eric Brown.
The return of the Nigerian gave the ailing Mariners a new found confidence and it took them just ten minutes to find the back of the net. It were the usual suspects, Odafa and Tolgay who combined to give the Australian his second goal in as many matches. Okolie showed brilliant vision to pick out a pass for Ozbey who made a late run on the left. The Australian did not take a first touch and smashed a left footed volley in the top corner leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
This was after Odafa had a chance in the opening exchanges to score himself after he got at the end of a through ball, beating the offside trap but his first touch let him down, as his weak shot rolled past the post.
Just after the half hour mark, it was a virtuoso effort from the skipper as he twisted and turned and dodged past atleast three ONGC defenders, before smashing an effort towards goal but Rehenesh somehow pulled off a save.
The away team's first real chance came in the 37th minute off a Eric Brown corner which was flicked on by Kailash Patil and Katsumi Yusa was only a touch away from burying that at the back of the net.
Both teams had chances at either end to score. First it was Jewel Raja who almost volleyed an effort to goal off an Odafa cross from the left, but could not get a good connection on his shot. Then it was two successive chances for Brown. First it was good work inside the box, as he brought the ball down with his first touch, before unleashing a fierce left footed drive which Shilton Paul saved. Then it was a chip which just went wide off goal, coming off a good move through Katsumi and Bisht.
Just as the second half started ONGC should have had a penalty as Katsumi was hacked down in the box by Nirmal Chettri who was already on a yellow. Strangely referee Durgaa Mallik failed to see it as a foul, and also did not book Yusa, if he thought the Japanese had dived.
After the hour mark, it was that man, Odafa at it again as he left atleast three defenders for dead, dribbling past them, before a timely block left the ball for Snehasish Chakraborty who passed it to Manish Maithani but his shot just missed the goal by an inch.
Three minutes later, the Mariners got their second of the day through an unlikely source in Jewel Raja. Nabi's delightful through ball on the left found Tolgay Ozbey who beat his marker and put in a ball looking for the skipper, but Sandeep Sangha's interception brought it to Jewel Raja unmarked on the far post who slotted it delightfully past a despairing Rehenesh in goal.
It took another ten odd minutes before Mohun Bagan got their third of the night. Manish Maithani played a hopeful ball on the right which found Odafa who took it brilliantly with an impeccable first touch and then his fierce shot left Rehenesh with no chance.
Among the Mariners barrage, Surabuddin Mullick had a pop at goal in the 75th minute from outside the box but it was wide and did not trouble Shilton Paul who looked confident in goal. And just three minutes later, Katsumi's fierce drive from just outside the box was parried well by Shilton Paul, after Eric Brown had picked out the Japanese from the left.
In the 82nd minute, Shilton Paul pulled off another great save as he parried Eric Brown's free-kick which almost sneaked at the top left corner. On the counter, Odafa almost punished the sleeping ONGC defense as he found space on the right but his shot just went wide.
The next minute Rehenesh pulled off a double save to deny Mohun Bagan their fourth goal of the day, as Odafa was at it again, this time on the left whose shot was blocked by the alert custodian and the rebound which fell to Manish Maithani was smashed way high without any direction.
ONGC finally got their consolation goal as Eric Brown did ever so well to break down the left averting the attention of a clutch of Mohun Bagan defenders. While his shot was parried by Shilton at goal, he could do nothing to save the shot by Surabuddin who was unmarked when the ball fell to him.
Odafa had yet another chance to increase his goal tally when he headed across the crossbar off a corner just three minutes before regulation time. With this win, Mohun Bagan have recorded their first three points in this year's I-League.
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