Panaji, Oct 20: SC East Bengal rode on goals from Balwant Singh and Wahengbam Angousana to script a 2-1 win over reigning I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC in a pre-season friendly here on Wednesday.
The red and gold brigade have begun their pre-season, playing two friendly games last week. Coached by former Real Madrid tactician Jose Manuel 'Manolo' Diaz, the Kolkata-based side beat Vasco SC and Salgaocar FC by 3-1 and 2-0 goal margins respectively.
Diaz gave a start to goalkeeper Suvam Sen with the ever-dependable Tomislav Mrcela and Adil Khan playing as centre-backs. Hira Mondal and Raju Gaikwad were the two full backs as Sourav Das and Angousana pulled the strings in midfield.
Naorem Mahesh and Bikash Jairu were deployed as wide midfielders in a 4-4-2 system which saw Antonio Perosevic and Balwant play up front.
After a cagey initial few minutes, the red and gold brigade slowly started warming up to the contest. Jairu was in the thick of things as the Sikkimese winger swung in a couple of delectable corners.
Off the third one in quick succession, Balwant escaped his marker to head home from close, beating Gokulam goalkeeper Ajmal at his near post in the 40th minute.
In first half added time, Angousana doubled the lead.
Balwant found Perosevic in space with a lovely aerial ball. The Croatian forward did brilliantly to turn his marker inside out and force the keeper into a low save with the ball falling kindly for Angousana who slid in as the ball squirmed in.
With the heat unrelenting on a humid afternoon in Goa, both teams had to put in a hard shift.
Diaz made eight changes after the restart with the likes of Daniel Chima Chukwu and Amir Dervisevic coming on.
Chima almost made an immediate impact but his powerful low drive was kept at bay by the Gokulam keeper.
Dervisevic looked good with his incisive through balls as Diaz's charges bossed the game.
Against the run of play, Gokulam pulled one back.
Dervisevic tried to cushion the ball to Suvam in goal. But Gokulam's Rahim Osumanu showed good awareness to get in between the two and outjump the keeper to the ball and nod home.
SC East Bengal almost had a third goal when Semboi Haokip beat the keeper to send the ball goalwards but a timely clearance saved the blushes for the Malabarians.
Gokulam threw in the towel in the last ten minutes but SC East Bengal backline held firm, with developmental player Goutam Singh and Joyner Lourenco getting the job done.