AIFF Media Team
KOLKATA: Kingfisher East Bengal were held to a 1-1 draw by United SC in the round 11 clash of the Airtel I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday evening.
Edeh Chidi gave East Bengal the lead in the first half but defender Dhanachandra Singh equalised for United SC in the second period. Both sides had chances to win the game but East Bengal in particular were very wasteful and thus have now not won consecutive I-League games since February.
The result takes East Bengal’s points tally to 12 from seven matches while fourth placed United SC are now just two points behind the three joint league leaders.
High on confidence after the win over arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, East Bengal started strongly with the movement and physical strength of Edeh Chidi causing problems to the United SC defence.
United SC were having to foul Chidi to stop the Nigerian but midway through the first period the East Bengal forward got away from a couple of defenders and went past custodian Ishan Debnath but fell down inside the box.
East Bengal wanted a spot-kick as Debnath appeared to have touched Chidi but there was minimum contact and the referee booked the striker for simulation.
Armando Colaco’s side felt they were robbed but a few minutes later they went in front as Chidi turned away easily from Anupam Sarkar in the box and slotted the ball past Debnath.
It was a deserved lead for East Bengal who were dominant team in the first half with United SC also managing a few half chances.
Both sides started the second half slowly but East Bengal lost control of the game as they were misplacing too many passes while Chidi went quiet.
Then from a corner United SC equalised as Dhanachandra Singh’s towering header went above Abhijit Mondal and found the back of the net.
United SC restored parity despite hardly creating anything before the equaliser and that finally brought East Bengal to life as Lalrindika played a dangerous cross into the box which was spilled by Debnath but no East Bengal player was there to profit.
The purple shirts also started to look more lively going forward with CK Vineeth testing Abhijit from distance while a flick on from Ranti almost found substitute Mohammed Rafique free in the box.
East Bengal were lacking quality with their final pass and when Lalrindika did produce a quality ball, Japanese Ryuji Sueoka uncharacteristically failed hit to the target from close range.
Colaco introduced Baljit Sahni and Semilen Doungel in search of the winner and those changes added intensity to the East Bengal attack.
They wasted a golden opportunity to bag all three points when Doungel played in a superb low cross into the box. Sahni failed to connect to it and Chidi’s effort from the rebound rattled the bar.
It was an unbelievable miss from the unmarked Nigerian and saw East Bengal drop two valuable points.