Mohun Bagan held by 10-man Indian Arrows in I-League clashDecember 29, 2017
The homecoming was historic but their football farcical. And with it, Mohun Bagan may have left themselves a mountain to climb in their bid to regain the I-League.
Against Indian Arrows, who played with 10 men after Amarjit Kiyam was booked twice in 15 minutes, Mohun Bagan split points for the third successive game and fourth overall having scored first through Dipanda Dicka’s penalty in the 27th minute.
Indian Arrows neutralised through Rahul KP and a near full-house at Mohun Bagan gave them a standing ovation at full time. The crowd also barracked Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen, asking him to go back. After 10 points from six games, Sen’s future looks tense.
It took Indian Arrows six minutes to equalise after trailing from what looked like a dodgy spot-kick decision. Referee Tejas Nagvenkar penalised Arrows’ right-back Asish Rai after the slightest of contacts with Mohun Bagan’s wide left Nikhil Kadam who acted like he had been poleaxed.
Nagvenkar, who has a string of questionable decisions in the Indian Super League too, could have booked Kadam for simulation but penalised the kids.
There was nothing questionable about the equaliser barring Kinshuk Debnath showing he didn’t have the legs to keep up with Rahim Ali. Arrows played a sequence of short passes before Sanjeev Stalin found Ali in space on the left. Ali, a Mohun Bagan product, scootered past Debnath and played square for Rahul KP who tapped home from a defensive sandwich that had Kingsley Eze and Ricky Lallawmawma. Ali beat Debnath again early in the second half but the square pass didn’t go to a teammate.
With Kiyam and Jeakson Singh manning the Indian Arrows’ engine room, the young ones pressed hard and neutralised Mohun Bagan’s midfield. They did concede free-kicks in dangerous areas but so poor were Mohun Bagan’s execution of set-pieces that barring a fifth minute effort from Kadam that Sheikh Faiaz headed but Rai cleared his line, Indian Arrows’ bid for a draw wasn’t really under threat.
In the 20th minute, Dicka found Ansumana Kromah but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot on target with only goalie Dheeraj Singh to beat. That Kromah looked stunned on beating the off-side trap after getting to the end of a Faiaz’s chip and couldn’t lob Singh told the story of Mohun Bagan in the first half. It was no better in the second barring Manandeep Singh coming close once.
It will be small consolation for Sen that Indian Arrows showed the kind of cohesion he predicted they would. Barring Rai, everyone Luis Norton de Matos started had under-17 World Cup experience and they didn’t flinch from looking at the 128-year-old team in the eye.
Kiyam’s bookings were unnecessary but so unimaginative were Mohun Bagan on their last day at work in 2017 that it didn’t look like the visitors were a man, err boy, short. Indian Arrows now have seven points from six games.