EAST BENGAL HAVE TURNED UP the heat in I-League, climbing to the top of the league table ahead of the all-important Kolkata Derby.
Just days after their arch rivals Mohun Bagan beat newly promoted club TRAU FC by a 4-0 margin, East Bengal did the same, albeit in a much more competitive match.
TRAU FC, who fielded a side featuring several changes from the last match, found themselves in good form surprising the hosts with good possession and persistent attacks. But it was the Red and Golds who found themselves ahead first, with Enrique Espada finding the net just 17 minutes into the net, sending the Kalyani crowd into a fenzy. But just before half-time, Deepak Devrani scored the equalizer for the visitors; their very first goal of the campaign.
The second half saw TRAU put on a fighting display with repeated attacks but couldn't find that all-important elusive goal. But just when it looked like the match was going to end in a draw, Crespi managed to score the winner for the home team.
This is a crucial victory for the Red and Golds. With 8 points from 4 matches, they are at the top of the league table; although Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala FC (both on 6 points from 2 matches) have a chance to overtake them in the next game. But more importantly, East Bengal are on a two match win streak going into next Sunday's Kolkata Derby, which will put extra pressure on their arch rivals Mohun Bagan.
TRAU FC meanwhile are having a tough time in I-League, having lost all 3 matches and residing at the bottom of the league table; under a threat of relegation.
Before the match, there were reports of discord among the TRAU FC management with a club official overruling the starting line-up put together by head coach Douglas De Silva. During the match the head coach was absent from the dug-out but the team showed considerable improvement from the previous match. Whether that proves to be a mark of things to come remains to be seen. But the club will want to take every positive they can from this match ahead of a tough next outing against Real Kashmir FC on next Sunday.