Mohun Bagan got the better of title aspirants NEROCA FC in Imphal on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a brace from Aser Dipanda. Fellow forward Akram Moghrabi netted the third goal for the visitors. Subash Singh and Felix Chidi scored for the home side.
NEROCA lined up in a 4-2-3-1 shape as Felix Chidi replaced Nedo Turkovic up top while Mohun Bagan made three changes from their loss to Gokulam Kerala with Kinshuk Debnath, Yuta Kinowaki and Azharuddin Mallick coming in for Rana Gharami, Raynier Fernandes and SK Faiaz in the side which lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
The home side started the match well and surged into a deserved lead in the 16th minute through Subash Singh’s lobbed shot. After Kinshuk Debnath lost possession, Subash Singh took control and charged from the left wing before chipping the ball neatly over Mohun Bagan custodian Shilton Paul.
However, Mohun Bagan hit back with an equaliser just four minutes later. Aser Dipanda scored from a spot-kick after he was brought down by goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh inside the penalty area.
The Mariners’ happiness was short-lived as NEROCA restored their lead in the 24th minute. Kinshuk Debnath was at fault yet again as he failed to clear the ball which allowed Nigerian striker Felix Chidi to enter the box from the left side and find the back of the net.
However, Sankar Lal Chakraborty’s boys equalised again at the half-hour mark when Cameron Watson’s pass was finished expertly by Aser Dipanda, with NEROCA’s appeals for offside falling on deaf ears.
Mohun Bagan then took the lead just before half-time as Akram Moghrabi scored a goal for the Kolkata outfit. Yuta Kinowaki’s header had set him up, following Nikhil Kadam’s cross from the right side.
Eight minutes into the second half, Felix Chidi had the chance to level things for the hosts after Subash Singh laid off the ball for the former following a turn. The 27-year-old, however, took two touches which cost him as the Mohun Bagan defence blocked the attempt.
At the hour mark, NEROCA were unfortunate to see Saran Singh’s long-range shot, from the edge of the box, kept away from goal by Shilton Paul.
Gift Raikhan’s side created several opportunities in the final quarter of the match but couldn’t finish them off as they fell to a disappointing loss.
The 3-2 win sees Mohun Bagan at the fourth position on the points table with 24 points in their kitty, two short of their arch-rivals East Bengal.