IN A RATHER prosaic affair at the Barasat Stadium, East Bengal overcame DSK Shivajians 1-0 thanks to a first half goal by their star striker Ranti Martins.
DSK Shivajians were eager to start anew after their loss to Aizawl FC, and it showed in their starting line-up. There were 5 changes. Israil Gurung, Mohammed Rafi, Melvin Lobo, Ralte and Abdul Hakku came into the starting line up for them, while home team East Bengal fielded the same first eleven that got a 1-1 draw out of Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby.
East Bengal started on an offensive note and would have gone ahead early but for the Shivajians custodian. A foul on Ranti Martins that got Abdul Hakku booked saw Do Dong-hyun send in one of his famous curling free-kicks but Subrata Paul made a good diving save.
Minutes later Ranti Martins received a good ball from the left flank and took the shot but the ball went just wide.
But the flair of the first few minutes started to go feeble as the minutes wore on. Long balls kicked in and nobody seemed to be making any progress. DSK Shivajians created some tension inside the East Bengal box from a corner kick but despite three attempts they could not find the target.
But then came the break-through. Mehtab Hossain took a corner kick that Mohammed Rafique got a shot on, and it came off the crossbar. But Ranti Martins was alert. He kicked hard at the rebounding ball and it went straight into the net. 1-0 to East Bengal, just around the half hour mark.
Another corner saw Saumik Dey take a shot at the goal but Subrata Paul was there to collect it.
Early the second half, Mohammed Rafique took a good volley towards the goal that caught Surata too far out of position but it missed the target by inches; otherwise it was two nil right there.
The Shivajians were trying hard to get the ball back but without success. Aser Dipanda made a run up the right flank and sent in a cross but none of their players was there to get the tap on it. Arnab Mondal sent it away to safety.
Dipanda got the chance of the game when a long ball fell to him with only East Bengal keeper Rehenesh in front of him but he shot it wide.
And then Shivajians hit the bar. Israil Gurung took a crack at the goal, it took a deflection off Bello Razaq and hit the bar. It seemed that the luck really wasn't with the visitors tonight.
But Do Dong-hyun wasn't having a shining luck either. Joaquim Abranches sent in a good ball that he shot wide, as he did with several other balls he got tonight. He then tried to help Ranti score with a cross but Abdul Hakku intercepted it.
The last few minutes looked like a formality that the players were going through. The Shivajians tried to make an attack that stopped when Dipanda was caught offside. And that was about it. The match ended with a 1-0 win for East Bengal.
Although it wasn't a memorable game for either club, East Bengal will be glad to take the 3 points and go up to the second position in the league table with 8 points from 3 games.
For the Shivajians, this is the second loss on the trot. They have played 3 games till now - all away from home - and collected only 1 point. They will be desperate to turn that around when they face Mohun Bagan in their first ever home game at the top division on Saturday.