East Bengal returned to winning ways in the I-League after a tumultuous few weeks which saw Trevor Morgan dismissed as the head coach with a 3-1 win over Minerva Punjab FC on Sunday. Wedson Anselme (31'), Robin Singh (52') and Bikash Jairu (90+') scored for the Red and Golds while Krishna Pandit got a late consolation for Minerva.
With absolutely no interest from the East Bengal supporters, The Red and Golds lined up without Chris Payne and Robin Singh, with the Aussie striker not even featuring on the bench. Cavin Lobo made a return from injury as Thongkhosiem ‘Semboi’ Haokip was thrown in to lead the line by assistant coach Ranjan Chaudhuri who was deputising for injured Mridul Banerjee.
Surinder Singh chose to go in with a three man defence with Baoringdao Bodo featuring on the bench, barely 24 hours after he scored against Lonestar Kashmir in New Delhi in the U-18 I-League on Saturday.
Holding a high defensive line, the Warriors successfully caught the likes of Jackichand Singh and Wedson Anselme offside more than a couple of times, who were wrecking havoc early on.
Only an error in judgment could define goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh’s dangerous tackle on Jackichand, 10 yards away from the box. Although he escaped a red card, there was no stopping referee Ajitkumar Meitei from handing him a booking.
Meanwhile, Gurwinder Singh came to the rescue of his teammates with a goalline clearance in the 29th minute. Rowllin Borges’ pass caught Ivan Bukenya by surprise and Victor Amobi intercepted and shot from inside the box. Subhasish Roy Chowdhury got his hand to it but the ball was sailing into the net, only for the skipper to jump in and fend it off for a corner.
But Wedson Anselme broke the deadlock past the half hour mark with a timely header into his far side from Rahul Bheke’s cross down the right flank.
Six minutes into the second half, half time substitute Robin Singh’s cross kissed Moinuddin Khan’s arms inside the box and the Red and Golds were awarded a penalty.
Even though it was Robin Singh who converted from the six-yard spot in the end, the second goal of the match did come with it’s fair share of drama as Wedson and Robin got into a tussle amongst them to take the penalty in the first place.
Minutes later, Wedson tackled teammate Lobo in frustration still carrying the angst for the chance not given to him. However, he calmed down after Lobo made up with him as he fed more than a couple of balls in the middle.
Victor Amobi tried hard to bank a goal for himself but failed to finish off in the final third. Both managers tried their hand at substitutions as Romeo Fernandes was introduced into the middle.
Bikash Jairu got the third in the final minute of regulation time after Wedson’s pass had the winger in an one v one situation with Simranjeet Singh, which he got the better off.
Krishna Pandit, who arrived in place of Manandeep Singh, scored one back for the Minervans in the dying embers of the game.
Amobi as usualm beat off his markers with ease to release Pandit on the right with precision as Gurwinder was left for dead with the young striker launching the ball past a hapless Subhasish Roy Chowdhury inside the net.
With the win, East Bengal romped to thirty points on the penultimate gameday of the season. Minerva Punjab’s doors of qualifying for the Federation Cup was permanently slammed shut as they won’t better their current ninth place on the table with 12 points from 17 games, with Chennai City a place above them with 17 points.