Panaji, Feb 27: SC East Bengal suffered a 5-6 defeat against Odisha FC in the final match of their maiden Hero ISL campaign, at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Saturday.
Anthony Pilkington (24'), Aaron Amadi-Holloway (60', 90+5') and Jeje Lalpekhlua (74') struck goals for SCEB, while Lalhrezuala (33'), Paul Ramfangzuava (49', 66'), Jerry Mawihmingthanga (51', 67') and Diego Mauricio (69') got on the scoresheet for OFC. SCEB's other goal was an own-goal by OFC goalkeeper Ravi Kumar.
Returning to the touchline after serving a four-match suspension, SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler made nine changes to the line-up that started against NorthEast United FC four days ago. Subrata Paul, Narayan Das, Danny Fox, Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, Bright Enobakhare, Surchandra Singh, Wahengbam Angousana and Rana Gharami made their way back into the starting XI.
After a rather quiet first quarter, Pilkington broke the deadlock in the 24th minute with a powerful finish from the right into the bottom left corner. Angousana helped the Irishman net his third Hero ISL goal.
The hosts soon got on level terms through full-back Lalhrezuala, who took advantage of a corner taken by Brad Inman in the 33rd minute to register his maiden Hero ISL goal.
The Red-and-Golds regained their lead before heading into the break. Unable to clear an SCEB corner, the OFC defense allowed Maghoma to pounce on the ball on the right and set Amadi-Holloway up with a beautiful pass near the goalmouth. Failing to intercept Amadi-Holloway's shot, Manuel Onwu's miscued clearance went into the net after taking a deflection off Kumar in the 35th minute.
The second-half witnessed a goal-fest at either end. OFC once again found the equaliser, this time through Ramfangzuava in the 49th minute.
Only a couple of minutes later, Jerry netted his maiden Hero ISL goal off an Onwu assist to send OFC 3-2 up.
The action swung like a pendulum in this half as both teams attacked relentlessly. The equaliser came in 60th minute when Amadi-Holloway found the back of the net with a mighty long-range shot. It was his maiden Hero ISL goal.
However, SCEB's joy soon fizzled out as Ramfangzuava, Jerry and Mauricio scored in quick succession to cement OFC's lead.
The visitors did score two more goals before the final whistle was blown - through Jeje and Amadi-Holloway - but they were of no avail.
The Red-and-Golds finished the season in the 9th spot, having amassed 17 points from 20 matches (3 wins, 8 draws and 9 defeats).
Commenting on the result at the virtual post-match Press conference, Fowler said, 'In the first half, I could see us winning. But in the second half, we conceded two goals which put us on the back foot for a little bit. It was hard to take. Every time they attacked, they seemed to score. Defensively, we weren't good enough. Concentration levels have let us down again, but we have to take this result and soldier on.'