In the I-League fixture, Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan registered a convincing 2-0 win over Real Kashmir FC (RKFC) in an away game to climb to the top of the Hero I-League table on Sunday. The stands were filled and noisy, the queues outside the TRC Turf Ground stretching far and everyone waiting for Real Kashmir FC to get it going.
The green and maroons had the lion’s share of possession and more shots on target but the home side had more attempts and five more corners in a game that could have gone either way.
Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna started with newly-signed Senegalese striker Baba Diawara and brought in Dhanachandra Singh in the backline. Scotsman David Robertson, the RKFC coach, however, preferred the same starting XI that won against reigning champions Chennai City in the previous game.
Joseba Beitia in the middle and Ashutosh Mehta on the right kept the RKFC defense busy and clueless. In fact, almost every attack that Bagan mounted had the imprint of one of them. Despite physical superiority, RKFC appeared lost for possession and space.
Kallum Higginbotham was the only RKFC player who appeared to find a way to push the ball forward but could only find Mason Robertson out of position. When he was in position, Mason ended up heading wide.
In the second half, while Mohun Bagan continued to dominate possession, the home side had better scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes. It was the visitors from Kolkata who turned the match on its head within the space of two minutes. First, off a long Dhanachandra Singh throw from the right-flank, Daniel Cyrus somehow managed to deflect the ball into the path of an onrushing Beitia. Beitia positioned his body perfectly to meet the loose ball with his right foot and powered his shot into the Real Kashmir net.
It finally took a Mehta throw-in, headed by Cyrus and smashed into the net by Beitia to break the deadlock in the 71st minute. Three minutes later, substitute PM Britto put through Nongdamba Naorem for the team’s second goal. RKFC kept trying to pull one back but there appeared no sense of urgency in its wayward shooting.
Kashmir did make valiant attempts to come back and Loveday Okechukwu missed their best chance with less than five minutes to go. Krizo too had an attempt from close but to no avail.
Mohun Bagan has 10 points from five games, while Kashmir dropped to the eighth spot in the table with five points from four games. The Mariners will next host Indian Arrows on January 9 while the Snow Leopards will host Punjab FC one day later.