Kolkata: ‘Cometh the hour, comes the man’ the saying goes says and there could not have been a better example than Dipanada Dicka whose career took a sweet turn after an array of disappointing results. He was still on top of the goal-scoring list though and Sunday’s brace that completed Bagan’s league double over arch-rivals East Bengal in the Kolkata derby propelled him to the top with seven goals to his name, two of which came on the day it mattered the most.
Bagan until now were crumbling low with just three wins from nine matches the last of which came against defending champions Aizwal FC before another 1-2 loss to current leaders Minerva Punjab. But none could have predicted what transpired at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Thursday as the Mariners ran out clear winners, by a 2-0 margin that could have easily been more had not the upright intervened twice in the second-half.
The match had hardly hit into a grooge when Bagan went ahead as early as the 55th second, which interestingly turned out to be the I-League’s fastest derby goal. It had all begun with Raynier Fernandes taking on Al-Amnah before squaring the ball for Nikhil Kadam, whose cross from the right flank was paved into Dicka’s way by debutant Akram Moghrabi and the Cameroonian made no mistake with a delicate finish that send the Mohun Bagan into a frenzy.
Three minutes later East Bengal came close but that their main man Mahmoud Al-Amnah had to leave the pitch after an off the ball incident with Raynier stung them time and gain as the match progressed. They had four shots on target three of which were straight at Shilton Paul, the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper who had miraculous recovers after reportes of a stomach bug ruling him out had emerged.
Dicka however had no stopping and in the 35th minute got his brace from another cross that had a touch from Raynier. It was the 21-year-old’s corner that was headed in by the Cameroonian who looked transformed into a beast, hungry for more.
Bagan will however rue their missed chances that could have added a couple more, saving East Bengal the blushes in a match that started their revival.
It was April 9 in 2017 when Mohun Bagan last had a two goal lead at half-time in the Kolkata derby and although Red and Golds captain Arnab Mondal was sacrificed for more attacking players as play resumed it got no better for the home team.
With a second derby loss lurking near for former Bagan captain Katsumi after he had changed sides, the Japanese made desperate attempts at goal but none came by eventually. Nikhil Kadam on the other had few good chances but while he struck the upright late into the game, another opportunity was skied over the bar.
The win pushed the Mariners back into fourth with 16 points form 10 matches, just six behind leader Minerva Punjab who have played a game less. East Bengal meanwhile remained third with 16 points form 11 encounters and next face the Punjabi Warriors at home.