Second half goals from Bright Enobakhare and Devendra Murgaonkar canceled out each other in an entertaining 1-1 draw between SC East Bengal and FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Wednesday. SC East Bengal played over half an hour of the match with ten men as skipper Daniel Fox was shown red following a reckless lunge on Alexander Jesuraj.
Robbie Fowler sprang a surprise when he started both Bright Enobakhare and Aaron-Amadi Halloway together. It was later revealed that Anthony Pilkington wasn’t fit enough to play and Jacques Maghoma had taken a knock which is why he started on the bench. The East Bengal head coach also gave a debut to young defender Ankit Mukherjee as the Red and Golds lined up with a back five. Juan Ferrando on the other hand went with a strong lineup including all of his big players.
The first chance of the game came in the fourth minute to James Donachie. Brandon Fernandes floated in a great cross from a free kick but the Australian’s header was saved well by Debjit Majumder. Although FC Goa had most of the early possession, they looked extremely dangerous on the counter. New signing Bright Enobakhare had a couple of decent openings as well but the final touch seemed to be elusive.
However, for all of their possession, the Gaurs were being frustrated by East Bengal’s compact defending. They allowed the likes of Edu Bedia, Jorge Ortiz and Brandon to pass the ball from side to side but didn’t allow anything through the middle. Then soon enough, they had a great couple of chances of their own.
A beautifully taken free kick from Narayan Das found the head of Halloway but he couldn’t keep his header on target. A minute later, a Raju Gaikwad throw in resulted in a free header for Daniel Fox but the Scotsman too failed to score. The half then ended with a couple of shots on target from Saviour Gama who popped up in dangerous positions all through the match.
The second period started the same way as the first. Goa dominated the ball but rarely made incisive inroads. However, things changed in their favour dramatically when Daniel Fox got his marching orders after lunging into Alexander Jesuraj following a poor touch. With a man down, East Bengal brought on Jacques Maghoma and Surchandra Singh to introduce some fresh legs. They then had another great opportunity, against the run of play. Matti Steinmann intercepted a pass near the centre circle and surged past a couple of players. He came inside, made space for himself but shot just wide when it was probably easier to score.
Then came arguably the best goal of the season so far. East Bengal’s new Nigerian forward picked up the ball just inside the opposition half, went on a marauding run past three defenders, dropped his shoulder to lull two more into tackles before tucking it neatly past Nawaz (1-0). It was a brilliant solo effort that will be tough to match the rest of this season. Even so, it was nowhere near enough as Goa struck right back 30 seconds later. Ortiz laid it off for Gama to cross in from the right and substitute Devendra Murgaonkar out jumped everyone else to calmly finish it past Debjit (1-1).
East Bengal were dealt another difficult hand when in the dying minutes, Surchandra was deemed to have fouled Nawaz just before Bright finished it off calmly. However, replays showed that there was minimal contact between the two and that goal maybe should have stood. This result sees FC Goa stay in third place with 15 points from 10 games. East Bengal have 7 from nine games, are 9th and have a few tricky assignments ahead of them in the form of Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters.