I-League: Clinical Mohun Bagan beats Real Kashmir 2-0 to go table top

Second-half goals from Joseba Beitia and Nongdamba Naorem helped Mohun Bagan to a 2-0 win over Real Kashmir FC at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar.

Mohun Bagan forward Papa Babacar Diawara takes a shot during the match against Real Kashmir FC.   -  Hero I League Twitter

The stands were full and noisy, the queues outside the TRC Turf Ground stretching far and everyone waiting for Real Kashmir FC to get going on Sunday.

It never did. Barring a few isolated attempts at the goal and some desperate shooting, the local favourite appeared collectively off-colour against a better-prepared Mohun Bagan in its second home game, going down 2-0 for its first loss this year even as the visitor, after complaining about the conditions, the artificial turf and even the practice time, completed a dominant victory to go top of the I-League table with 10 points from five games.

RKFC so far has managed to get off to good starts this season, stumbling in the second half but managing to get away with draws in its first two games before winning the previous outing against champion Chennai City FC. On Sunday, the team seemed to have left its plans back in the hotel.

Coach David Robertson admitted Bagan managed to fend off the early attacks that RKFC is known for and that his team did grow in the game but to be fair, Bagan always had control of the proceedings. It began well, going on the attack early on and creating quite a few chances but couldn’t find a break-through.

“We lost because they scored two goals and we didn’t. I am happy with my boys. We had a good game. I can’t blame my players. We lost focus for five minutes against a team like Mohun Bagan and they capitalised on it It’s the fine margins of football. I am just disappointed,” Robertson said.

READ | Real Kashmir vs Mohun Bagan - As it happened

Joseba Beitia in the middle and Ashutosh Mehta on the right kept the RKFC defence busy and clueless. In fact, almost every attack that Bagan mounted had the imprint of one of them. Despite physical superiority, RKFC appeared lost for possession and space. An on-field scuffle early on did not help matters. Papa Babacar Diawara, Bagan’s new Senegalese signing playing his first game, came close to putting it ahead in the 17th minute but, with only RKFC goalkeeper to beat in front of an empty goal, hit wide.

Kallum Higginbotham was the only RKFC player who appeared to find a way to push the ball forward but could only find Mason Robertson out of position. When he was in position, Mason ended up heading wide. Danish Farooq was off-target upfront and Subhash Singh had an off-day at the back, Mehta easily outflanking him at will.

The second half was far more balanced. Robertson clearly had made himself heard during the break. There were more co-ordinated attempts from RKFC, more passes upfront and more breaking through the middle. The game opened up and Bazie Armand had the best chance for RKFC in he 50th minute but sent the ball sailing over.

Gnohere Krizo came off the bench and tried to use his height to an advantage but found a match in Bagan defender and compatriot Daniel Cyrus. It finally took a Mehta throw-in, headed by Cyrus and smashed into the net by Beitia to break the deadlock in the 71st minute. Three minutes later, substitute PM Britto put through Nongdamba Naorem for the team second goal. RKFC kept trying to pull one back but there appeared no sense of urgency in its wayward shooting.

The host next plays Punjab FC here in what is likely to be a grudge match after the latter refused to travel last season. It would also be a chance for Robertson's boys to put Sunday's disappointment behind.

Arrows, TRAU share spoils

In the other match, AIFF developmental side Indian Arrows played out a 1-1 draw with NEROCA at the Tilak Maidan in Goa. Sushil Meitei gave the visitor the lead in the 24 minute before Vikram Partap Singh equalised for the host three minutes to the end of the first half.

The result had no effect on the two teams' position on the points table -- Shanmugam Venkatesh’s Arrows are placed tenth with four points, while NEROCA remains ninth having amassed one point more.

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