I-League: Bagan remain top of table after 0-1 victory against Minerva
Sony Norde struck in the 84' minute as Mohun Bagan clinched a late win over Minerva Punjab at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday.
The Mariners were wasteful on the night, and would consider themselves fortunate to come away with all three points as they once again go above Aizawl FC to sit atop the I-League standings.
Minerva Punjab made as many as six changes from their last game. Former Bagan man Deepak Devrani was relegated to the bench and defensive stalwart Loveday Eyinnaya was ruled out through a knock he received against Chennai City.
Sanjoy Sen handed academy product Pintu Mahata his first ever I-League start and Jeje Lalpekhlua got the nod ahead of Balwant Singh up top.
Katsumi Yusa drifted into central midfield, in a formation mirroring their Kolkata derby win last Sunday.
Kicking off proceedings placed second on the table, Mohun Bagan were quite wasteful in the opening half. With their opponents holding a high back-line, the likes of Sony Norde and Darryl Duffy were trapped offside more often than not.
In fact, it was defender Eduardo Ferreira who had the best chance early on as he connected well from a Norde free-kick on the wall. His header though was adjudged well by young goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh as he collected the ball on the dive, full outstretched.
Pintu Mahata was lacking in confidence as he miscued a perfect release sent in by Sehnaj Singh as was taken off for Prabir Das in the 25th minute.
Kareem Omoloja could have committed suicide in the 36th minute as he almost hit the ball into his won net. Luckily for the hosts, the ball went over the bar from an interception the Nigerian caught from Darryl Duffy's square pass to Jeje inside the box.
Minerva found it tough to get into the opposition box. In one of the few attacks, however, Eduardo Ferreira closed down Krishan Pandit after Amandeep won the ball from Sony Norde in midfield.
Both coaches went into the tunnel with having lots to do in terms of rethinking their strategies for the second half.