Mohun Bagan stayed in the hunt for the I-League title as they scored a hard fought 2-1 win over Churchill Brothers in a penultimate round match at Vasco on Saturday.
After a barren first half, Bagan scored two through Nikhil Kadam and Akram Moghrabi. Churchill Brothers pulled one back through Osagie Monday in the 74th minute in the match played at Tilak Maidan.
Bagan move to third place with 30 points and play their last match against Gokulam Kerala on March 6 in Kozhikode. Minerva lead the table with 32 points, while Neroca are a point behind with one game left in the season. Churchill Brothers, meanwhile, remained on ninth place with 17 points. They play Minerva Punjab on March 8 in Panchkula in their last match.
The Mariners made two changes from their side that beat Indian Arrows, bringing in Kinshuk Debnath and Gurjinder Kumar in place of Ricky Lallawmawma and Rana Gharami. Churchill made one change from their drawn match against Gokulam Kerala, bringing in Britto PM in place of injured Wayne Vaz.
Both the sides played a cautious game initially which saw play confined to midfield for most part of the first half. Bagan tried to make inroads into the Churchill goal but their moves fizzled out as they found defender Monday a tough nut to crack. The Red Machines had two clear chances but Jeancy Zunapio Siyo was guilty on both the occasions.
First, he first headed over the bar off a cross from Britto and in the dying minute of the first half, he directed the ball wide off the mark off a Frincis pass. Churchill thought they had taken the lead in the 33rd minute when defender Monday headed the ball into the net off a Gurung cross from the left but referee Om Prakash Thakur disallowed the goal as Onyeama Frincis pushed defender Kingsley Obumneme as Monday went up for the header.
The visitors broke the deadlock after the break in the 54th minute. Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka, who missed a clear chance after the break, played a square pass to Nikhil Kadam who unleashed a left-footer that found the far corner of the net.
Sankarlal Chakraborty’s side preferred to defend their citadel after taking the lead while Churchill went all out to find the equaliser. Unable to find the equaliser, Churchill coach Alfred Fernandes tried to push defender Osagie Monday up, replacing Pawan Kumar for Jeancy Siyo who played in the defence.
The move paid off as Churchill found the equaliser in the 74th when substitute Nicholas Fernandes sent a measured cross into the box for unmarked Monday who tapped in. However, Churchill’s joy was short lived as Bagan once again took the lead two minutes later.
Substitute S K Faiaz sent a high cross into the box for Akram Moghrabi to find the target to give Bagan full points and keep themselves in the hunt for the title.
(With inputs from PTI)
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