East Bengal, who were the outright favorites to retain their IFA Shield crown, fell in a hard fought encounter against Prayag United, decided by a solitary Ranti Martins goal..
In what was otherwise a lackluster match deplete of much action at either end, it was Eelco's men who made use of the one chance which their Nigerian hitman got, to steal home the crown from defending champions, East Bengal, thus ending their Quadruple hopes prematurely.
The first half was a scrappy affair with both teams sitting in midfield, trying to find out the striker with aimless and often wayward long balls. While Eelco started with only Ranti Martins up front as the recongnised striker with Carlos Hernandez playing off him, Trevor Morgan did not have the luxury to start his usual striker as Edeh Chidi was nursing a slight niggle. He instead opted to start with the semi-final hero Andrew Barisic, partnering Baljit Singh Sahni, while Penn Orji, nominally playing on the left enjoyed an almost free roving role.
The Red and Golds seemed to have won the half by a whisker as they looked most likely to do something in an otherwise listless encounter. It did take them all of 35 minutes to manufacture their first meaningful attack as Penn Orji's cross from the left flank was headed brilliantly by Barisic. However the Prayag custodian was equal to the task as Sangram Mukherjee pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Australian.
The second half presented more of the same, but while bringing on Shylo Tulunga was a masterstroke by Eelco, Morgan's decision to bring on Robin Singh for the ineffective Baljit backfired, as the forward cut a lonely figure, the entire match making a hash of the simplest of touches. Equally ineffective was Penn Orji, as this was probably his worst performance in quite some time.
The usually dependable Orji made a hash of a simple chance when he was one on one with Sangram, after being brilliantly set up by Barisic, as he dallied too long on the ball, allowing the defenders to make a recovery.
In the 64th minute Carlos Hernandez's free kick was met by Ranti Martins only to be cleared by Barisic, who was back doing his own share of defensive duty. As Tulunga looked ever so dangerous with his runs down the right, it took them only fifteen minutes more to open the scoring.
Tulunga made one of his trademark mazy runs down the right before finding Ranti Martins with a perfect pass. The Nigerian hitman made no mistake and buried his shot past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who stood no chance.
Even with Chidi making a late cameo appearance, East Bengal failed to launch a comeback in the remaining ten minutes or so, and Prayag United managed to successfully take revenge for their defeat in the last IFA Shield final.