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Bagan lucky to escape with draw against Churchill Bros
September 21, 2012
SILIGURI: Churchill Bros gave Mohun Bagan a lesson in attacking football but the latter managed to escape with a goalless draw in a Group B Federation Cup football encounter at Kanchanjungha Stadium, here. Thrusday.
Churchill Bros players watch as a Bagan striker
aims goalwards in Siliguri, Thursday.
Bagan goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya made three spectacular saves to keep the scoreline safe. Churchill would also count themselves unlucky for being disallowed a goal in the 79th minute – the only time the Goa giant could beat the Bagan custodian.
Churchill Bros worked on fitness and speed and put Bagan on the mat for the greater part of the first 25 minutes. The action riveted round the fine sense of opportunism showed by Churchill’s Nigerian striker Henry Antchouet, who breached the Bagan defence on three occasions. Henry’s two attempts in 10th and 26th minutes were brilliantly blocked by Arindam while the forward failed to time his third attempt (18th minute) properly.
Bagan briefly came back into the action launching two quick attacks off its multi-million acquisition Okolie Odafa. The Nigerian striker began the team’s turnaround with a solo effort in the 27th minute before releasing midfield colleague Jewel Raja with a nice flick in the 30th minute. Odafa’s first attempt went over while Jewel Raja saw his sharp right-footer coming off the crossbar.
The first half blitz continued further but the goal failed to mature as both Tomba Singh (Churchill) and Tolgay Ozbey failed to produce the desired finish.
Churchill continued to dominate after the break and found the net in the 79th minute off a Tomba Singh free kick. But referee Santosh Kumar (Kerala) pulled up Churchill Bros striker Alberto Mendes Silva for infringement and disallowed the goal.
In another Group B encounter, Mohammedan Sporting continued from where they had left in the qualifiers to down Durand Cup champions Air India by a lone goal at Siliguri’s Kanchanjungha Stadium.
The Kolkata side could well have won by a bigger margin but for the sequences of misses that kept its winning margin to minimum.
A barren first half was all about the follies committed by the Mohammedan strikers, who could only produce half-hearted efforts to let go the opportunities.
Midfielder Mohammad Mukhtar brought his goal-poaching skills to a good effect to produce the only goal for Mohammedans after the break, in the 54th minute.
Mohammedans could have taken the lead in the second minute when striker David Sunday got himself clear of the Air India defence but ruined the advantage by firing his attempt on the crossbar. Sunday found more of his team-mates – striker Ashim Biswas and midfielders Phoolchand Hembram and Jayanta Sen - repeating the tentativeness in the box with scrappy attempts.
Sunday was particularly unlucky finding his second attempt in the 49th minute blocked by the Air India crossbar again.
Mukhtar finally came to Mohammedans’ rescue when he won the ball off an Air India defender and followed it up with a brilliant right-footer from around 20 yards which beat the rival goalkeeper hands down.
Air India tried to regroup but failed to find the equalizer.
Nigerian striker Henry Ezeh had chances for Air India in the 86th and 90+3 minutes, but could not produce the required finish.