East Bengal’s bid for an elusive I-League title got a further blow as they were stunned by AIFF’s developmental outfit Indian Arrows 0-1 in Kolkata on Saturday.
Vikram Partap Singh struck the all-important goal against the run of play in the 58th minute to lead the Arrows to their second win from nine matches.
It was Givson Singh who set up the goal with a square pass from the edge of the box as the home team’s defence was in total disarray.
With the win, the Arrows snapped a hat-trick of losses but remained at the bottom of the table with seven points from nine matches.
Going through a turbulent phase, East Bengal started the year with a hat-trick of losses, including a 1-2 derby debacle against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, leading to the resignation of head coach Alejandaro Menendez. But East Bengal had returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Chennai City in an away match in Coimbatore as they needed to continue the momentum with three back-to-back home matches.
Playing under their new coach Mario Rivera, who took charge on Saturday, there was no change in fortunes for East Bengal as they slumped to 11 points from nine matches, 12 behind arch-rivals Mohun Bagan who are sitting atop the standings after 10 matches.
East Bengal missed a flurry of chances and their easiest came in the 85th minute when Marti Crespi’s long ranger rebounded and fell to substitute Ansumana Kromah. The Liberian found himself unmarked but ended up messing it up in front of an open net with his shot going over the bar.
Worse was in store for East Bengal as they were reduced to 10 players in the stoppage time following a double yellow to their Spanish forward Marcos Jeminez Espada.
Crespi had earlier squandered a chance in the 16th minute from captain Lalrindika Ralte’s freekick as the home side dominated the proceedings in the first-half but without any goal.
East Bengal next take on Aizawl FC and Punjab FC on February 7 and 13 respectively.
Good win for Real Kashmir
A goal on either side of half-time helped Real Kashmir beat former champions Aizawl FC 2-0 in an I-League clash in Aizawl on Saturday.
Kallum Higginbotham opened the scoring for the visitors in the 17th minute. Mason Roberston completed the tally in the 82nd minute.
It was RKFC’s second win on the trot, which moved them to the fifth spot in the standings with 12 points from eight matches.
“It has been an emphatic win. I am sure that in coming matches we will reach among the first three,” RKFC co-founder Sandeep Chatto said. “The team is jumping back with two wins and two upsets and a draw in last five matches. I am sure that the team and coach have reworked their strategy for bringing out the real magic of Kashmir.”
Aizawl were shocked with another unsuccessful outing at home, which left them 10th in the points table with only eight points from nine games.
The home side have now gone winless in six consecutive matches.
RKFC were the more dominant side right from the kick-off and they went ahead through Higginbotham’s good finish.
The Englishman received a pass from Robertson and unleashed a right-footed shot from the centre of the box which crashed into the bottom left corner.
RKFC kept a tight hold over the proceedings and went in to the break leading by a goal.
They maintained their ascendancy after the break and coach Dave Roberston introduced Gnohere Krizo in place of Higginbotham in the 68th minute to add more muscle to their attack.
The move paid off as Krizo assisted Roberston during the second goal at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
It was Krizo’s pass that Robertson controlled and converted from the centre of the box to secure all three points for the ‘Snow Leopards’ in their second season in top-flight.
(With PTI inputs)