Ashok Singh

I-League 2017-18: Neroca 2nd, East Bengal 4th, as the two contenders play out a draw

[caption id="attachment_63941" align="aligncenter" width="580"]WhatsApp Image 2018-03-08 at 6.21.05 PM Dudu Omagbemi in action against Neroca FC today. Image Source: XtraTime[/caption]

XtraTime Web Desk: A 1-1 draw at the Salt Lake Stadium against NEROCA, peeps East Bengal to finish fourth, while NEROCA finished second to end their journey in this year’s Hero I-League.

East Bengal were on the front foot and it was Dudu's shot in the 22nd minute that ruffled NEROCA's feather early on to provide the first real chance of the game.

With the momentum, the Red and Golds squandered three good opportunities within as many minutes after the half-hour mark. Dudu and Mahmoud Al Amna's shots were saved but Jobby Justin's might have had his name for th miss of the season as he had an empty net to shoot at but blasted the ball over from four yards.

The ineffective Gopi Yumnam was withdrawn and Pritam Singh's initiation into the game provided NEROCA the opener of the afternoon. Nick Ward started a counter-attack that had Ashok Singh and the Australian play a one-two on the right flank.

Ward then released the ball in between Mohammed Rafique and Eduardo Ferreira for Felix Chidi inside the box. The Nigerian rounded up Arnab Mondal who took a bobble and shot in between the near post and Ubaid CK who could have done little from close space.

A penalty shout right after the break was turned a deaf ear by referee A.Rowan as Dudu argued that Varney Kallon had handed the ball. Kromah was brought on at last but could not do much as he and his teammates including Mahmoud Al Amna, who was boisterous in midfield founf it tough to break Govin Singh and Varney Kallon's resolute at the back.

However, the in-form veteran Dudu made sure that East Bengal would not sign off with a defeat as he headed in from Chullova's cross with quarter of an hour left to play. In the final minute of regulation time, the referee made a blunder in not awarding a penalty to East Bengal as the ball had clearly touched Saran Singh's arm from Katsumi Yusa's corner.

It has been a stunning season for NEROCA as the team from Manipur showed great character to outsmart the big guns of the league on a consistent basis on their first appearance.

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