Kolkata: Smiles returned to the Mohun Bagan camp with Sankarlal Chakraborty’s appointment as the hosts dumped aside defending champions Aizwal FC 2-0 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium here on Sunday.
The Mariners looked in their usual attire of squandering easy chances until Masih Saighani netted an own goal in the 53rd minute from a Ricky Lallawmawma’s low cross and when Dipanada Dicka sides the second, it had been 28 days since Bagan had scored from open play.
Searching for a new dawn amidst despair and draws, the newly elevated Chakraborty made as many as six changes in the opening line-up, that saw Cameron Watson lead the midfield of three.
Although he had arrived just 5-6 days ago, the Australian’s contribution was just as important as Bagan’s returning to winning ways and Chakraborty showered him with praise later on. “He is composed on the ball, calm in attacks are defence. The addition of one such player who has played earlier in India, gives us an additional advantage.”
Earlier, it was the Mariners who created ample chances in the opening half breaking the otherwise compact Aizwal defence far too easily that had both Dicka and Ansumana Kromah miss open chances while former Maidan hero Shylo ‘Mama’ Malsawmtluanga, made a goal-line clearance to keep Bagan at bay.
Aizwal on the other hand failed to create any clear chances with their best opportunity coming from a Kareem Omolaja shot that rattled the bar early in the 13th minute. Bagan on the contrary created enough but missed almost most. Cameroonian Dicka had two simple tap-ins to make in the first half, but bottled both and while the earlier chance was a poor header, the second was after Aizwal goalkeeper Avilash Paul has come out of his position.
A long ball from the defence left Paul nowhere, after colliding with Dicka and Kadam found the latter again with a pass that should have been a simple tap-in but instead went out for a corner after the striker tried for another pass.
With both the sides ending goaless at the break, Saighani finally gave the Mariners a life-line when he scored an own goal in his pursuit of clearing a low-cross by Ricky. Kromah then came close but skied his opportunity and this was after his open header had struck the upright with him foolishly celebrating beforehand.
Minutes later Dicka ended his side’s treacherous goal-scoring form after Nikhil Kadam’s lob to him, rounding off the ‘Reds’ custodian to slot home in the 75th minute. It was his fifth in the competition this season and Bagan’s first open goal in four home matches.
A win coming after a gap of four matches that also saw Bagan succumbed to a shock 1-2 defeat a against Chennai City at the Maidan, smiles retuned with perhaps a new dawn that had Dicka later saying, “We played better. I like the new system.”
Bagan jumped to fourth with 13 points from eight matches just four adrift the top placed East Bengal, while Aizwal remained sixth with just 10 points from six fixtures.