Balwant Singh justified coach Sanjoy Sen’s faith in him by playing him ahead of AIFF Player of the Year Jeje Lalpekhlua by scoring two goals in two minutes to help Mohun Bagan rally from a goal down to beat DSK Shivajians 3-1 on Saturday.
After Milan Singh gave the visitors a well-deserved lead in the 33rd minute, Balwant scored in the 42nd and 44th to go level on points with East Bengal. Bagan now have 21 points from nine games, same as East Bengal who stay top on better goal difference. Yusa Katsumi scored from the spot to add gloss to the result in the 89th minute after substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua was brought down by Gouramangi Singh inside the box.
Both sides made three changes to their lineup. While Mohun Bagan drafted in Subhashis Bose, Sehnaj Singh and Balwant Singh in place of Shouvik Ghosh, Souvik Chakraborty and Azharuddin Mallick respectively, DSK had Nirmal Chettri, Sanju Pradhan and Seong-Yong Kim making way for Sajid Dhot, Gouramangi Singh and Jerry Mawihmingthanga.
Mohun Bagan were playing a 4-4-2 system while DSK deployed a defensive 4-5-1 with Sumeet Passi the lone man upfront.
DSK Shivajians looked the better team in the first half with Quero keeping Mohun Bagan rearguard on tenterhooks. The home midfield also looked disjointed lacking zip.
It was the Spaniard’s spadework down the left inside channel which set up Milan who beat an offside trap to tap home from close range. Sanjoy Sen immediately thereafter opted for pace, bringing in Prabir Das in place of midfielder Sehnaj Singh in the 36th minute.
But in the last three minutes of the first match the match turned on its head. Balwant scored both the goals, first turning in a Pritam Kotal cross which visiting goalkeeper Subrata Pal failed to parry, and then applying a sublime scissor kick to double his tally from another Kotal floater.
Mohun Bagan started the second half just like they finished the first half creating a host of chances with Sony Norde at the heart of every move.
The Haitian looked to have found his feet twisting and turning to set up Duffy and Katsumi on two occasions respectively. While Duffy’s right-footer was saved by Subrata diving to his right, Katsumi took too long to pass the ball to Balwant who was held off by Gouramangi Singh. Minutes later, Kotal crossed for Balwant who agonisingly spurned over the bar.
DSK were further jolted when Sairuat Kima was penalised for wearing the wrong jersey.
Towards the end of the game, Sanjoy Sen withdrew Darryl Duffy and Balwant Singh to bring on Bikramjit Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua. Incidentally, Jeje earned a penalty in the dying minutes of the game which was calmly converted by Mohun Bagan skipper Katsumi Yusa to lift the Mariners to 21 points from nine matches, at par with their cross-city rivals East Bengal who are scheduled to take on Aizawl FC on Monday.
by I-League Media