Barasat: The crowd at the Vidyasagar Krirangan erupted into joy when Dudu Omagbemi’s strike in the dying stages hit the back of the net, giving East Bengal a much-needed win against the Indian Arrows on Sunday.
On a winless run in the last four matches, the East Bengal camp was increasingly facing a lot of heat from the supporters, who had demanded that coach Khalid Jamil be sacked. This win not only eases things down but also propelled the Red and Gold brigade to the third spot in the I-League table.
With Al-Amna still not fit, Jamil gave Liberian Ansumana Kromah his first start for the hosts. Skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam returned for the Indian Arrows, who had played out a goalless draw against Chennai City in their last match.
The game got off to a slow start but in the 25-minute mark, Dudu failed to head in a shot from Cavin Lobo who had received the ball from a Katsumi Yusa cross, much to the anxiety of the crowd who had gathered in numbers to root for the home side. The effort from Dudu was even better two minutes later as Yusa pulled off a beautiful cross for the Nigerian to head in but Arrows custodian Prabhsukan Singh Gill denied the goal, courtesy a wonderful save.
In the 32nd minute, Yusa finally put one behind the net from a Kromah ball only for the goal to be disallowed by referee OP Thankur as the Japanese playmaker was five yards behind the last man. Dudu, once again came perilously close to giving the hosts the lead but his shot hit the post much to the agony of the fans.
Towards the end of the first-half, the Arrows found a good chance to take a lead but Rahul Kannoly Praveen headed a shot over the bar from a Sanjeev Stalin cross which was delivered right into the box.
In the second half, it was Dudu once again, who failed to head in a perfect cross from Samad Mallick. With 30 minutes of remaining, Brandon Vanlalremdika was brought into the match which meant that Yusa was pushed into a more central role, a move which didn’t help East Bengal’s cause.
In the 72nd minute, Jobby Justin failed to make a proper touch in front of the goal from a ball by Mallick as another of the many chances that the hosts created went begging. The Arrows, despite a counter-attack in the 90th minute by Suresh Singh Wangjam failed to open the scoring.
However, Arrows goalie Gill, who had a spectacular night, pulling off some wonderful saves failed to judge a looping header from the veteran Dudu in the 93rd minute, who finally got his name on the scoresheet and earned the hosts three important points. East Bengal now are separated by just four points from league leaders Neroca FC.
Jamil’s men would have to find their goal-scoring form ahead of their best clash against Minerva Punjab on February 13, whose outcome would have a huge say on the I-League. Arrows next face Churchill Brothers at home on February 10.