Updated: Jan 31
Panaji, Dec 31: Despite being a forgettable year for most, 2020 has nonetheless been a special year for the red-and-gold brigade. First, it marks the centenary of the club's founding, and second, it has witnessed their induction into India's current top-flight football competition – the Hero Indian Super League.
SC East Bengal began their Hero ISL campaign with the Kolkata derby against ATK Mohun Bagan FC at Tilak Maidan, Vasco on 27 November. After losing that game 0-2 despite creating multiple chances, they played six games in December – against Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United FC, Jamshedpur FC, Hyderabad FC, Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC, respectively.
SCEB are currently placed 10th on the Hero ISL 2020-21 points table with three points from seven games (three draws and four losses).
In their second fixture and first 'away' game of the season, the Red-and-Golds lost 0-3 to Mumbai City FC at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on 1 December. MCFC striker Adam Le Fondre netted a brace, while Hernan Santana scored his side's third goal in that game. SCEB were dealt with a lethal blow early on as captain Danny Fox suffered an injury and had to walk off in the 7th minute.
In their next game, SCEB were hosted by NorthEast United FC at Tilak Maidan on 5 December. Despite dominating the statistics, Robbie Fowler's team lost the match 0-2 owing to an own goal by Surchandra Singh in the first-half and a second-half injury time goal from Rochharzela. The scoreline could've been different had the 'visitors' not been denied what looked like two obvious penalties.
It was in their fourth fixture, against Jamshedpur FC at Tilak Maidan on 10 December, that the Red-and-Golds bagged their first point in the competition. Playing their second 'home' game of the season, SCEB played with just ten men for 70 odd minutes after midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh received his marching orders in the 25th minute. JFC tried to make frequent inroads into the SCEB box, but the 'home' side put up a valiant display to thwart all their attacks and hold them to a 0-0 stalemate. Md Irshad was adjudged the Player of the Match.
On 15 December, SCEB were up against Hyderbad FC in their fifth fixture and third 'away' game at Tilak Maidan. That match saw midfielder Jacques Maghoma score a brace and register SCEB's maiden Hero ISL goal in the process. Maghoma put SCEB ahead in the 26th minute, but two quick goals by Aridane Santana in the 56th minute handed HFC the advantage. Halicharan Narzary struck HFC's third and final goal of the night in the 68th minute off a Liston Colaco assist. SCEB were able to reduce the deficit, thanks to Maghoma's second goal in the 81st minute, but couldn't prevent a 2-3 defeat.
Five days later, on 20 December, SCEB took on Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim in their sixth Hero ISL fixture and fourth 'away' game, which ended 1-1. Captain Danny Fox returned to the SCEB starting XI after a three-match injury layoff, thereby adding solidity to the backline. The Red-and-Golds dominated the proceedings from the outset, played high-pressing football and created a plethora of chances in both halves. Their only goal of the game came in the 13th minute when KBFC's Bakary Kone, while attempting a clearance inside his box, mistakenly got the final touch on a square ball from Md Rafique that was meant for Anthony Pilkington. SCEB custodian Debjit Majumder was brilliant between the sticks as he made two fine saves off the three shots on target that he faced. However, the 'visitors' couldn't hold on to their lead till the final whistle as Jeakson Singh grabbed a last-gasp equaliser to earn KBFC a point. SCEB's Anthony Pilkington was adjudged the Player of the Match.
SCEB's final match of the year was against Chennaiyin FC at Tilak Maidan on 26 December. It was their seventh Hero ISL fixture and third 'home' game this season. Chennaiyin FC went ahead twice, courtesy goals from Lallianzuala Chhangte (13th minute) and Rahim Ali (64th minute), but SCEB's German midfielder Matti Steinmann struck a brace to cancel out CFC's lead, first in the 59th minute and then in the 68th minute, and salvage a 2-2 draw for his side. Both goals came off set-pieces – Bikash Jairu's corners, to be precise. Steinmann was adjudged the Player of the Match.
SCEB play Odisha FC next, at Tilak Maidan on 3 January 2021.
KEY STATISTICS (according to the official website of the Hero Indian Super League)
Club Stats: 5 goals, 1 clean sheet, 84 crosses, 2,654 passes, 17 saves, 200 tackles, 3,586 touches
Top-Rated Players (Minimum 5 Matches Played)
1. Matti Steinmann: 7.53
Matches: 7, Minutes: 630, Goals: 2, Assists: 1, Passes: 330, Touches: 393, Passing Accuracy: 70%, Shots: 6, Crosses: 2, Tackles: 24, Interceptions: 11, Clearances: 6, Blocks: 8
2. Jacques Maghoma: 7.19
Matches: 7, Minutes: 630, Goals: 2, Assists: 0, Passes: 264, Touches: 321, Passing Accuracy: 62.87%, Shots: 10, Crosses: 9, Tackles: 19, Interceptions: 10, Clearances: 0, Blocks: 9
3. Anthony Pilkington: 7.11
Matches: 7, Minutes: 630, Goals: 0, Assists: 1, Passes: 261, Touches: 331, Passing Accuracy: 65.9%, Shots: 21, Crosses: 12, Tackles: 21, Interceptions: 6, Clearances: 3, Blocks: 4