A new-look Mohun Bagan beat defending champions Aizawl FC 2-0 to finally arrest their four-match winless streak in the I-League football tournament on Sunday.
The win, however, did not come easy for a wasteful Mohun Bagan who got a dramatic 53rd minute lead with Masih Saighani’s own goal, while Aser Dipanda Dicka (75th) sealed the issue as the Mariners got off to a winning start under new coach Shankarlal Chakraborty.
The former champions’ last win came about a month ago on December 10, a 5-0 rout of Churchill Brothers but since then their campaign hit a roadblock with three successive draws and a loss.
The win pushed Mohun Bagan to fourth position with 13 points from eight matches, while Aizawl remained on 10 from six games.
Having promoted to chief coach after Sanjoy Sen stepped down following their slump, Chakraborty rung in six changes including their new recruit Aussie midfielder Camron Watson and a fit-again Arijit Bagui.
Watson and Raynier Fernandes did a fine job at the centre of the pitch, while Bagui and Nikhil Kadam made inroads from Aizawl’s left flank.
But a goal eluded them in the first half in which Aizawl FC struck the woodwork early on.
Stroke of luck
Dicka and Ansumana Kromah were at their wasteful best and missed open nets on a couple of occasions as the first goal of the match finally came in the most dramatic fashion.
Saighani outstretched his leg to deny Dicka a finish on the cross but ended up tapping the ball into his own goal giving the green and maroon fans some sigh of relief.
In fact Mohun Bagan had their stroke of luck early in the 14th minute when Kareem Omolaja’s thunderous shot from a long range curled in to hit the woodwork behind an outstretched Shilton Paul.
Mohun Bagan had their best chance in the 38th minute but Shylo Mama came in the way with a brilliant goalline save.
Goalkeeper Avilash Paul was out of position and Kinglsey tried to head it in from a Raynier corner but Mama came to Aizawl’s rescue by blocking the header in front of the goal.
In the 22nd minute, chaos reigned supreme in the Aizawl box as Avilash Paul found himself out but recovered to clear the ball which went to Dicka but he chose to pass it on to Kadam despite an open goal in front of him.
In the 62nd minute, there was another open miss and this time Kromah failed to head it home.
Dicka made the best use of a long ball as he dribbled past an advancing Aizawl goalkeeper Avilash Paul on the left before slotting it home with his left foot.
Moments later there was another injury blow for the hosts as the Liberian Kromah was seen limping out of the ground.
Aizawl tried to bounce back but Mohun Bagan held on to their lead to secure their first win in a month.