Updated: Jan 3
Panaji, Jan 3: A goal each from Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma and debutant Bright Enobakhare guided SC East Bengal to their first win in the Hero Indian Super League, as they defeated Odisha FC 3-1 at Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Sunday evening.
The result put an end to SC East Bengal's winless run in the competition and helped them extend their unbeaten streak to three matches. The Red-and-Golds currently stand tenth on the points table with six points from eight matches (one win, three draws and four losses).
SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler made two changes to the starting XI that played against Chennaiyin FC as Raju Gaikwad and Milan Singh replaced Surchandra Singh and Sehnaj Singh.
Playing their eighth Hero ISL fixture and first of 2021, the 'home' side, clad in red-and-gold colours, applied pressure on Odisha FC from the outset with high-pressing football.
SCEB's first goal of the evening came in the 12th minute with Anthony Pilkington netting his maiden Hero ISL goal. The goal came off a set-piece as Gaikwad's long throw-in from the right, after taking a touch at the near post, was nodded in by the Irishman with a jumping header at the far post.
Odisha came close to equalising twice in the first quarter, but were denied on both occasions by SCEB custodian Debjit Majumder who made two fine saves to nullify Manuel Onwu and Diego Mauricio's goal-bound headers in the 17th and 19th minute, respectively.
Pilkington nearly scored his second goal at the stroke of the half-hour mark as he cut into the OFC box from the left and aimed for the far post, but the shot got deflected after hitting the woodwork.
It was in the 39th minute that Jacques Maghoma doubled SCEB's lead and scored his third Hero ISL goal in the process. He collected the ball from Matti Steinmann near the centre circle, made a darting run down the left to enter the opposition box and unleashed a clinical strike that kissed the near post before heading in.
The Bhubaneswar-based side started the second-half strong, creating many chances. In the 59th minute, Jerry Mawihmingthanga set Onwu up with a fine touch, who, in turn, shot the ball on target, but Majumder was alert once again to avert danger.
The 'visitors' continued to push hard for a goal throughout the final quarter, but the hosts hogged possession in a bid to thwart them.
SCEB grabbed their third and final goal of the evening in the 88th minute when 22-year old Nigerian forward Bright Enobakhare, who had come on as a substitute for Maghoma in the 73rd minute, struck his first Hero ISL goal with a thunderous shot off a Surchandra Singh assist with his second attempt, after the first was parried away by OFC goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh.
However, OFC pulled one back in the second-half stoppage time and prevented the Red-and-Golds from registering a clean sheet. At first it appeared that Diego Mauricio was the scorer, but the official website of the Hero ISL later confirmed that SCEB skipper Danny Fox had got a final touch on the ball.
Reflecting on the win at the virtual post-match Press conference, Robbie Fowler said, 'It’s always nice to get a win. We have now lost just once in the last five games. It was a good, professional performance. We are building and we know that there is a lot of work to be done. It’s a great start to the new year and hopefully we can continue.'
Anthony Pilkington was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
SCEB play FC Goa next, at Tilak Maidan on 6 January.