Imphal: Nedo Turkovic’s last minute volley helped Neroca earn an important drae, putting an end to East Bengal’s winning run of four games that seemed to become five until the substitute stepped up on the occasion.
In a game where the Kolkata giants could have scored half a dozen, coach Khalid Jamil will consider two points lost more than one earned.
Starting off from where they had left, the Red and Golds went ahead as early as the 13th minute when Katsumi Yusa calmly tapped-in a loose ball. Plaza’s cross into the box was not dealt properly by the Neroca defence and the Japanese had no problem in putting it past the Neroca custodian.
Laldanmawia Ralte guilty of missing an easy chance earlier could have out his side 2-0 up but failed to touch the ball while Al-amnah struck the upright from a direct free-kick.
Dedpite the missed chances, the first half however completely belonged to East Bengal who with their attacking approach completely dominated the proceedings. Neroca on the right had quite a few chances but with Chidi often isolated up-front, nothing good materialised for them.
Hungry for an equaliser Raikhan soon brought on Turkovic in place of Israilov Akhlidin in the first half itself. The Bosnia-Herzegovina player’s arrival calmed things for down for the home side who looked more confident in the second-half.
Resuming from the break the ‘People’s Club’ looked more hungrier for goal. They were further helped by the presence of Nedo whose height and physicality made it easier for the ‘Men in yellow’ to keep the Red and Gold defence on toes and it was he who scored the all important equaliser for Neroca.
A hopeful long ball from NEROCA was only half-cleared by the visitors which fell to Nedo at the edge of the box and he made no mistake rifling a beautiful volley that gave Barreto no chance.
Coach Khalid Jamil will however be more disappointed with the missed chances that could have easily changed the course of the match otherwise.
Nonetheless, the Red and Golds reminder on top of the table courtesy a greater goal difference, having played a match more than second-placed Minerva Punjab, while Neroca moved up to third in the table.