NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) piled further misery on SC East Bengal (SCEB) with a 2-0 win in its Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Tilak Maidan here on Saturday.
East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler made one change to his starting eleven which suffered a 0-3 defeat to Mumbai City FC (MCFC), with Sehnaj Singh coming in place of Daniel Fox. NEUFC boss Gerard Nus continued to shuffle his squad, making five changes to the side that drew against FC Goa.
Gurmeet Singh, Ashutosh Mehta, Mashoor Shereef, Kwesi Appiah and Ninthoinganba Meetei were a part of the starting line-up. SCEB was clearly the better side in a dour first half, but failed to translate its dominance into scoring. Its first opportunity arrived in the fourth minute from a Jacques Maghoma free-kick, but Scot Neville’s header from the near post fell into Gurmeet’s arms.
Fowler thought his side had a penalty in the 20th minute when Maghoma, after taking a touch in the box, was tripped by Mehta. It looked like a foul, but the referee waved play on. NEUFC continued to hit its opponent on the counter as it had in previous matches. And that tactic paid off at the half-hour mark when it took the lead in a fortuitous manner.
Appiah made a fine run on the right flank and found Idrissa Sylla in the box. The striker failed to make good contact, but the ball deflected off defender Surchandra’s leg and rolled into the goal. The second half continued with the same intensity with both teams going on the attack early on.
At the hour mark, SCEB had another penalty claim when Anthony Pilkington’s shot at goal seemed to have brushed a NEUFC defender’s arm before being parried by the keeper. Sylla had a chance to settle the game in the 71st minute but with just the keeper to beat, the Guinean’s shot went wide.
However, NEUFC eventually doubled its lead off a late counter attack. Suhair Vadakkepeedika picked out Rochharzela in the box and the youngster found the back of the net.