Mohun Bagan squandered yet another home advantage as it was held to a goalless draw by I-League debutant Neroca FC in a fifth round action here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. Despite getting ample scoring opportunities, especially in the second half, Mohun Bagan attack suffered cramps in the striking zone letting the match end in a barren exchange.
Mohun Bagan saw its two foreign recruits in the attack, Liberian Ansumana Kromah and Haitian Sony Norde, returning to the starting line-up after missing a match owing to injury. But that did not help matters improve as Kromah remained wasteful missing at least three scoring opportunities. Bagan missed the services of its Nigerian defender Kingsley Eze, who was suspended following a double booking in the previous match against Shillong Lajong FC.
Making its first big league appearance in its 52-year-old history, Neroca impressed with its defensive organisation. Coach Gift Raikhan, who is a former defender having stints with a host of top clubs of the country, made a good arrangement in the back line with Liberian Varney Kallon Kiatamba playing the pivotal role in deep defence. The host did not make much by way of attacks in the first half with the trio of Kromah, Norde and Aser Dipanda Dicka not getting their combination right. Norde, the play-maker in the Bagan line-up, did not look in the best of his fitness as the Haitian was often seen limping after his upfront runs.
Bagan came back with more purpose after the break and started making regular inroads into the opponent box. Norde got the ball home in the 51st minute just to be ruled off-side. The home side continued its onslaughts and got its second opportunity through Kromah in the 57th minute when the Liberian forward was set clear of the NEROCA defence by a nice diagonal pass from Norde. The Mohun Bagan attacker delayed his approach to the goal allowing the opposition defenders to come in for rescue.
Following its second successive draw at home, Mohun Bagan remained third in the standings with nine points from five matches. Neroca continued in the fifth spot with seven points from four matches.
The result: Mohun Bagan 0 drew with NEROCA FC 0.
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