Mohun Bagan earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Punjab FC at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday afternoon.
Aser Dipanda (19') did not shy away from celebrating after scoring against his former side but it did not last as substitute Subha Ghosh (88') equalised late in the match.
Yan Law made a couple of changes to the side with Samuel Shadap coming in for Thoiba Singh while Dipanda replaced Girik Khosla upfront. On the other hand, Kibu Vicuna decided to stick to the winning combination that defeated Indian Arrows.
It was a bright start to the match with both teams fighting to gain the upper hand. Minerva have been vulnerable in defensive transitions and Vicuna's men were trying to exploit that weak nerve with their customary high press. But the hosts kept their calm and looked comfortable playing out from the back with short passes.
Bagan also managed to churn out a few chances in the opening quarter but an alert Punjab defence up to the task,
In the 19th minute, Dipanda delivered the goods for Punjab. It was an acrobatic side-volley that closely resembled a strike against East Bengal from a corner during his tenure with the green and maroons. Sanju Pradhan took a short corner and Shadap curled in an inch-perfect ball for Dipanda to wrap his laces around the ball.
Mohun Bagan were more urgent after conceding but lack of creativity in the attacking third was not helping their cause. Apart from an attempt from Fran Gonzalez which tested Kiran Limbu, the Mariners hardly troubled the Nepalese goalkeeper. They earned a few set-pieces but Joseba Beitia's deliveries lacked the usual bite and swerve to trouble Anwar Ali and co.
After the break, Bagan continued their search for an equaliser with renewed vigour but they were being dented by a resolute Punjab defence.
Kibu Vicuna threw in all his attacking resources in to salvage at least a point and the substitutes did not disappoint as Subha Ghosh scored the equaliser from nowhere in the dying embers of the game. Anwar's pass was too feeble for Teah Dennis, and the teenager after pick-pocketing the Liberian defender calmly slotted the ball past Limbu.
With spoils shared, Mohun Bagan continue to hold pole position in the league table with 14 points from seven matches whereas Minerva Punjab climb to the second spot with 11 leap-frogging Churchill Brothers, who have three games in hand.