Updated: Dec 25, 2020
Panaji, Dec 20: Despite leading by a goal till two minutes before the final whistle, SC East Bengal were held to a 1-1 draw by Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Sunday.
Playing their sixth Hero Indian Super League fixture and fourth ‘away’ game this season, SCEB went ahead in the 13th minute, courtesy an own-goal by KBFC defender Bakary Kone, but Jeakson Singh netted an equalizer in the injury time to restore parity for the hosts.
SCEB captain Danny Fox returned to action after a three-match injury layoff as Head Coach Robbie Fowler made four changes to the starting line-up, with Fox, Surchandra Singh, Bikash Jairu and seventeen-year-old Haobam Tomba Singh replacing Narayan Das, Md Irshad, Jeje Lalpekhlua and CK Vineeth. This was Tomba’s Hero ISL debut.
Even though Kerala Blasters dominated possession (59%-41%) throughout the game, it was SC East Bengal who created more chances.
The ‘visitors’ had their first scoring opportunity in the 9th minute when Tomba Singh produced a powerful left-footed shot on target from outside the opposition box, but KBFC custodian Albino Gomes made a brilliant save to keep it away.
SCEB’s only goal of the night came in the 13th minute when 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. It was Jacques Maghoma who set it up for Rafique with a precise forward pass.
Anthony Pilkington had a chance to double the lead five minutes later when he aimed for the far post after receiving another through ball from Maghoma just outside the box, but Gomes got his fingertips on it to send it out for a corner.
SC East Bengal shot-stopper Debjit Majumder pulled off a brave save as he lunged forward to deny Rahul KP a shot at the goal on the cusp of half-time, and suffered a knock in the process.
In a bid to add more resolve to their attack, KBFC Head Coach Kibu Vicuna introduced Sahal Abdul Samad and Jordan Murray after half-time. The duo justified the move by relentlessly trying to breach the SCEB backline and putting the defenders to test.
KBFC had a chance of leveling the score in the 51st minute when a corner kick taken by Facundo Pereyra saw Bakary Kone leap high and head it on target, but the attempt was nullified as the ball hit the side net.
From the hour-mark, the game swung either way with both teams creating multiple scoring opportunities.
In the 59th minute, Pilkington’s direct free-kick from the left outside the KBFC box headed goalwards, but was safely collected by Gomes.
A couple of minutes later, Rafique had a low shot at the goal off a Steinmann pass, but Gomes once again came to KBFC’s rescue to keep it out for a corner.
Murray almost drove home the equalizer in the 71st minute when he latched on to a delivery placed in front of him by Sahal, but Majumder was once again alert to keep his eyes on the ball and punch it away.
In the 87th minute, Pilkington, Steinmann and Maghoma combined to build up a good attack in front of the opposition goalmouth, but Gomes managed to keep Maghoma’s shot out of the frame with a solid presence of mind.
In the end, SCEB couldn’t manage to hold on to their lead as Jeakson Singh found the back of the net with a header off a neatly floated cross by Sahal in the fourth of the six minutes of stoppage time.
Anthony Pilkington was adjudged the Player of the Match.
SCEB play Chennaiyin FC next, at Tilak Maidan on December 26.