Kingfisher East Bengal, once again, bottled their chances to take a comfortable pole position in the I-League table when the drew 2-2 against Shillong Lajong FC. The match was their second last and clinching three points in this match would put them in the lead. Their last match, albeit a tricky one against fellow title contender Neroca FC, would have been at home.
When the match kicked off, East Bengal looked like they meant business and took the lead with a Dudu header within 20 minutes. The Lajong FC defence looked a tad helpless with Kromah maneuvering his way through repeatedly, keeping Nidhin Lal a busy man. As the first half continued, Lajong FC visibly got into the skin of the match with every passing minute and by the time the second half began, the Shillong team was well in control of the match.
East Bengal’s defence began to look shaky from the minute the whistle blew to announce the second half. Lajong skipper Samuel’s free kick, headed by Aiban put the ball in the net only nine minutes into the second half. East Bengal visibly struggled without the presence of Eduardo in the back.
The glaring inexperience of Mehtab granted Lajong a penalty in the 69th minute when he tackled Samuel inside the box in a ghastly uncalled for manner. It spelled doom for East Bengal as Ubai failed to save the Samuel penalty kick.
The rest of the second half was nothing short of an embarrassment for the red and gold brigade with Lajong FC taking complete control of the match. A couple of on target shots from both sides, mostly from the Shillong side marked the rest of the match until the dying minutes of the match when Dudu found the goal from a cross from Kromah. With five minutes of added time, neither team managed to emerge victors, although, East Bengal was clearly the bigger loser.
The I-league is now once again anybody’s game, with Mohun Bagan’s prospects suddenly looking far brighter than the Bagan fans could have imagined. Bagan’s game against Gokulam has also been pushed to the 8th of March at 3pm when all the other three contenders will play.