NEROCA continued their four-match unbeaten run to the fifth as they beat Mohun Bagan 2-1 at the Khuman Lamapak Stadium in Imphal on Friday.
Former Mohun Bagan player Eduardo Ferreira opened the scoring (24') which was cancelled out by Henry Kisekka (63') just after the hour-mark. But Bagan's defensive frailties were once again exposed when Aryn Williams (69') scored the eventual winner for the home side.
Manuel Fraile made one change to the side that drew 0-0 against Minerva Punjab as Saran Singh made way for Tondomba Singh.
Whereas Shankar Lal Chakraborty decided to test his bench strength by giving a rare start to Darren Caldeira and Gurjinder Singh in place of Sourav Das and Abhishek Ambekar respectively.
It was a bright start to the match with both sides trying to break the deadlock as quickly as possible.
But it was NEROCA who drew first blood when two former Mohun Bagan players combined to score the opener. Yusa Katsumi delivered a brilliant corner to the first post and Eduardo Ferreira timed his run to perfection to skip his marker and nod it into the net.
Bagan started the second half with more urgency looking for the equaliser. Arijit Bagui began joining the attack more but Subhash Singh was performing his defensive duties quite well to prevent the right back from causing significant harm.
On the 63rd minute, Henry Kisekka scored his fourth goal of the campaign to restore parity in the match. Caldeira put a lobbed cross into the box and Lalit Thapa could not get a touch to it even after committing himself which allowed Kisekka to nod into an empty net.
But the joy was short-lived as the Mariners conceded six minutes later . Sankar Roy punched away a corner which fell for Subhash at the edge of the box who did not hit the ball cleanly. But Aryn Williams got the slightest of touch to divert the trajectory of the ball and Bagan's backline was left rooted to the spot.
NEROCA sat deep for the rest of the game and started attacking on the counter allowing Bagan to take control of the match. Varney Kallon and Ferreira were brilliant at the heart of the defence and made sure that the three points did not slip away.