I-League 2017: Mohun Bagan 5-0 Churchill Brothers: In-form Mariners go top of the table
Sanjoy Sen's men put five past hapless Churchill in a rainy afternoon to go top of the table...

The Mariners sailed comfortably on a rainy afternoon as they put five past a struggling Churchill Brothers side at the Barasat stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.

Sanjoy Sen made only one change to his derby winning side as Naro Hari Srestha made way for Sk. Faiaz. 

Whereas, Churchill Brothers coach Ukranian Mykola Shevchenco made three changes to his side that lost to Shillong Lajong. Captain Suraj Singh was sacrificed along with Alber Gonsalves and former Mohun Bagan player Israil Gurung. They were replaced by Uttam Rai, Joshua Vaz and Nicholas Fernandes. 

Mohun Bagan started in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Shilton Paul in goal, shielded by a four man defense comprising of Kinsley Eze, Kingshuk Debnath as central defenders with Arijit Bagui and Ricky playing as wing backs. In midfield Yuta Kinowaki acted as a defensive screen partnered by Raynier Fernandes. Haitian Sony Norde operated on his favourite left side with Faiz attacking from the right. Kromah played as a withdrawal striker with Aser Dicka leading the attack. 

The Mariners had a disappointing start to the game as Japanese defensive midfielder Kinowaki had to be replaced by Shilton D'Silva within the first five minutes of play, after the former suffered a shoulder injury and eventually had to leave the stadium in an ambulance. 

The fans witnessed a slow start to the game with some sloppy passing in midfield from both sides.

The first chance of the game fell for Mohun Bagan when Kromah was fouled by Nongkhlaw within sniffing distance of the goal. But Norde's effort was parried away to safety by Churchill defense at the cost of a corner.

Minutes later, Kromah played a wonderful through ball to Dicka and the number 9 could not keep his shot on target, as the ball whisked past the second post.

But Mohun Bagan did not have to wait long as they drew first blood through ex-Churchill player Kromah who chose to refrain from celebrating after scoring against his former team. The Liberian got past the sliding tackle of Osagie Monday and slotted coolly behind goal keeper James Kithan to give Bagan the lead on the 23rd minute.

Churchill could have levelled soon, through a defensive error by Raynier Fernandes when he gifted the ball to Uttam Rai at a dangerous area. But the Sikkimese failed to test Shilton Paul under the sticks with his shot sailing high and wide.  

Within ten minutes Bagan doubled their advantage when Kromah released Dicka with a fantastic back heel through ball. The Cameroonian took advantage of a flatfoot Churchill defense and scored his first goal in a Bagan shirt with a grounded left footer. 

Bagan could have gone 3-0 up when Norde fed Dicka from the left who then twisted and turned to outfox Precious but again failed to keep his shot on target. 

Churchill had no answer to Mohun Bagan's flurry of attacks and it was complete one way traffic in the first 45 minutes. The Kolkata side had more possession, more shots on target and fittingly went into the break with a two goal insurance. 

It was 30 seconds into the second half when Dicka was presented with a floated delivery from the right by Faiaz. This time he made no mistake to put the ball into the net with a simple tap in from two yards out.

Sanjoy Sen's men heaped more misery on the Goan side, when young Faiaz registerd his name on the scoresheet after assisting twice earlier on the day. Monday's fury seemed limited to press conferences as a glaring mistake at the back left Kromah with the ball inside the box. His trickery fooled Kithan and then went on to square the ball to Faiaz who scored into an empty net to give Bagan a 4-0 lead.  

Mohun Bagan continued to carry forward the momentum from the first half as they managed to keep Churchill's defense always on their toes.

But Sanjoy Sen would be a worried man as first choice right back Arijit Bagui went off the field on a stretcher cluthching his ankle, who was substituted by Gurjinder Kumar.  Soon after, Sen also had to replace Kromah who felt a niggle in his groin. Skipper Norde also received treatment along the baseline when he fell awkwardly on his right knee, but eventually came back on the field and even went on to score the fifth for Bagan.

It was a typical Norde goal, who made a run down the left flank before cutting inside to fire a right footed ground volley beyond the reach of Kithan.

Dicka failed to complete his hat-trick when he missed a bread and butter chance at the dying embers of the game. 

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The Goan Red Machines must start from scratch as they have conceded seven on the road in just two games, whereas Sen will definitely be concerned with the  injuries to his key players. 

While Churchill will face Aizawl and East Bengal in two more away matches, Mohun Bagan will next take on Shillong Lajong on December 14, in Kolkata.

 

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