East Bengal FC increased their unbeaten run in the I-League to four games, after defeating DSK Shivajians FC in a close match at the Barasat Stadium on Tuesday.
After two meaningless draws against Mumbai FC and arch rivals Mohun Bagan AC, East Bengal have found their winning ways back with their star striker Ranti Martins scoring the only goal of the game.
While East Bengal went into the match with the same team that was fielded by Biswajit Bhattacharjee in the match against Mohun Bagan, DSK made a few changes to the squad. DSK, who had lost out to fellow I-League newbies Aizawl FC, changed almost half their side for the game.
Surprisingly, Indrajeet Chougale, who had inpressed in DSK’s goalless draw on their I-League debut against Sporting Clube de Goa, was also dropped from the starting XI.
East Bengal started to get into the game properly after the first 10 minutes of the match, when they started to make more concentrated attacks on goal. A Do Dong-hyun free kick was brilliantly thwarted by India international Subrata Paul, while Ranti Martins put his effort wide, after a brilliant bit of play by Bikash Jaru.
However, DSK also had their odd chance early on, after Arnab Mondal was penalised for a foul outside the box. Douhou Pierre stepped up to take the resulting free kick, but his bullet shot was saved by East Bengal custodian Rehenesh.
After a somewhat dull period of play, East Bengal finally found the breakthrough, with Ranti Martins steering in a rebound into an empty DSK Shivajians net, to score the only goal of the game. DSK showed some really poor defending on their part, with their defenders failing to clear a Mehtab Hossain corner properly as Md Rafique belted the ball from the edge of the DSK penalty area. He was unlucky to have hit the crossbar, but Martins was right where he should have been to turn in the rebound.
After the 30th minute goal, it was DSK Shivajians all the way till half time, as the Pune-based side went looking for the equaliser. However, the Lal Holud brigade also had their chances on the break, but lacked the finishing in the final third to capitalise on them. On his part, India international Subrata Paul also did well to heel the likes of Abinash Ruidas and Dong out of his goal.
The half time break seemed to have rejuvinated Bhattacharjee’s men further, as they came back to launch a flurry of attacks on their opponents. However, the likes of Dong and Rafique both failed to capitalise on their chances, and the pressure would be mounting on the South Korean star to perform well after a good showing in the Calcutta Football League last year.
DSK’s best chance of the game fell to Israil Gurung, as East Bengal defender Bello Rasaq deflected his shot onto the bar, but the unlucky Pune-ites failed to score on the night.
This win puts East Bengal on the second place in the I-League table, one place above their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, who have played a game less. Meanwhile, 2014 champions Bengaluru FC are still topping the league, after a perfect start of three wins from as many games.