Stephane Bayi Kamo and Ansuman Kromah scored on either side of half-time as Mohun Bagan picked up a hard fought 2-0 win over minnows Calcutta Customs to maintain their winning streak in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) .
Even though the Mariners bagged all three points, it was not a top-notch showing as the team looked failed to create any positive chance till the half hour mark, mainly owing to the poor show by Raynier Fernandes and Shilton D'Silva, the central midfield pair who took time to settle down in the middle of the park.
In the 32nd minute, Ivory Coast striker Bayi Kamo netted the opening goal of the match with a brilliant 30-yard long-ranger, after being left unmarked in front of the Customs box.
It was, however, Kromah who was ubiquitous and worked very hard throughout the game. The Liberian, who has been given the license to roam, dropped down to help the midfield and made some opportunistic runs into the opponent box at times.
Their cause, however, was not helped much by the two wingers Azharuddin Mullick and Chesterpaul Lyngdoh, who were far from their usual selves.
The away side started the second half with grit and looked determined to find an equaliser. Their excitement, though, was short-lived as the Kromah lit up the stage once again to double the lead for the Mariners. After being fed with a chipped pass by right-back Arijit Bagui, he used the space provided to him by the sloppy opponent defenders and poked the ball into the net to send the crowd into ruptures.
The goal put the game to bed and minnows had no chances of making a come-back after that jolt.
The win didn't hide the shortcomings of the Green and Maroon brigade though. The I-League and Federation Cup runners-up side now look increasingly overdependent on the striker duo of Kamo and Kromah, who have scored nine out of Bagan's 13 goals so far. While East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting have seen their Indian strikers VP Suhair and Jiten Murmu getting the goals, the goal-drought of Bagan's local players look worrying - more so, because they rarely look threatening.
If scoring goals is one concern, another is the huge workload that Kromah has to bear on his shoulders. . A bad day in office for either Kamo or Kromah can have serious implications on the team's performance if the Indian unit does not improve. With Mahmoud Al Amna running the show from midfield and Willis Plaza struggling for goals, it seems the two arch-rivals have opposite set of problems.
But worries don't stop here as Shankarlal, who has lost his first choice goalkeeper Shilton Paul for a fortnight due to a shoulder injury which he suffered in the last match against Patha Chakra.
Shibinraj, who came in replacing Shilton under the bar, looked shaky and on at least two occasions almost gave up goals while handling routine deliveries. Even though the weak opponents couldn't pounce on the chances, coach was forced to replace him with debutant Soiram Poirei - the only goalkeeper in the squad who has played regular I-League football last season.
Poirei's nervousness can be excused as he was taking the field for the first time in front of such vocal support for the first time in his career, but it must be noted that he also fumbled an aerial ball inside the penalty box at the dying stage of the match but danger was averted thanks to some vigilant defending.
With an all-win reocrd in their first four matches, the century-old club is doing perfect catch-up with East Bengal, who will take the field on Monday. But before the mini-derby against Mohammedan Sporting on 10th September and the big match against arch-rivals on 24th, the coach will have to work hard to paper the cracks in the sides. Given the shambolic quality of the other sides, the practice sessions may help more than the matches in that cause.