Vasco, December 12: SC East Bengal played out a 1-1 draw with Kerala Blasters FC to pick up their third point of the season on Sunday at the Tilak Maidan in Goa. A goal from skipper Mrcela put SC East Bengal ahead at the 37th minute, but the lead was short-lived: a shot from Alvaro Vazquez changed trajectory after taking a deflection and crossed the goal line at the 45th minute mark.
Kerala Blasters started the game on the back of a confidence-boosting victory over Odisha FC, while the challenge for SC East Bengal was to stem the flow of goals that they were conceding.
KBFC saw more of the ball in the opening few minutes, but the SCEB backline was hardly threatened as the Red-and-Gold Brigade kept their shape intact, giving the KBFC attackers little room to move towards the goal. They grew into the game as the match progressed, with Antonio Perosevic even making some menacing runs behind the KBFC defence.
The game ran into controversy at the 15th minute mark, when Lalthathanga Khawlhring’s shot hit the hand of an SCEB defender and fell to Alvaro Vazquez inside the box. Before the Spaniard slotted it past Sankar Roy to score, the referee blew his whistle, indicating a KBFC free kick. However, the goal was allowed to stand, leading to an SCEB protest. The referee then had a word with his assistance and ruled out the goal.
The match became intense after the incident, with both teams pushing hard for the lead, but it was SC East Bengal that first succeeded. Raju Gaikwad delivered another one of his trademark long-throws in the box at the 37th minute, catching KBFC goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill in no man’s land. Skipper Tomislav Mrcela rose high and nodded the ball home.
However, this brief victory was soon overtaken, with the Kerala Blasters desperately seeking and finding an equalizer at the brink of the halfway mark, albeit with a slice of luck. Alvaro Vazquez, whose goal was earlier denied, unleashed a shot from the top of the box. The ball deflected off Mrcela’s head straight for the goal, giving Sankar Roy no chance to save it at all.
Though slightly marred by this sole concession, SC East Bengal will look to build on this impressive defensive display when they play NorthEast United next on Friday.