East Bengal went down 2-1 against minnows Peerless in their ninth match of the 2018 Calcutta Football League (CFL) Premier Division ‘A’ on Thursday at the East Bengal ground.
Former Mohun Bagan duo Ansumana Kromah and Naro Hari Shrestha were on target to sink the Kolkata giants in this important fixture.
It was a must-win game for the Red and Golds as rivals Mohun Bagan had picked up a thumping 5-0 win over FCI on Wednesday. The defeat for East Bengal meant that they are now three points behind their arch-rivals.
East Bengal now have to win their last two matches and then hope that the Green and Maroons suffer a heavy defeat in one of their remaining fixtures if they want to defend their title.
Subhash Bhowmick’s side started the match on the ascendancy and looked hungry for goals. Just before Kromah broke the deadlock in 6th minute, Joby Justin squandered arguably the easiest chance of the game when he failed to find the back of the net from a handshaking distance.
With Mahmoud Al Amna and Lalrindika Ralte creating chances, the Kolkata giants were dominating the game. The flanks were utilised well but Joby Justin's profligacy let them down.
Goalscoring has been a problem for the club from the beginning of this season. Both Gagandeep Bali and Joby Justin have failed miserably upfront.
Another talking point which created quite a stir after the match was Kromah dribbling past World Cupper defender Johnny Acosta Zamora to score the opening goal. The player has already started receiving a lot of flak from a section of the East Bengal fans.
Coming fresh from the World Cup, there was a lot of expectations on the Costa Rican defender. So far the club has conceded four goals in the two matches he has played which include the Kolkata derby.
Now the question should Acosta’s performance be really assessed after just two matches? It must be noted that he hardly had 10 training sessions before he made his debut in the Kolkata derby.
The lack of pre-season was evident in his maiden performance for the club against Mohun Bagan. Johnny lacked pace and fitness which did not really improve in Thursday’s match.
But the defender surely showed leadership on the field. He even contributed to the only goal which his side scored. It was Acosta who laid off to Gagandeep Bali who in turn sent a cross inside the penalty box which was converted by Kassim Aidara.
The East Bengal fans have to be patient with Johnny Acosta as a player needs time get accustomed to new conditions. The ground condition, which got worse as the match progressed, did not help Acosta's cause as he failed to adjust himself to the slippery field.
The biggest surprise though came just minutes after the match as Peerless coach Biswajit Bhattacharya resigned from his position.
Bhattacharya cited lack of cooperation from the club officials and senior players in his team as the reason to step down. Under him, Peerless are currently sitting in the third position on the league table. They have remained undefeated against the three giants of Maidan (wins against Mohammedan and East Bengal and draw against Mohun Bagan).