Mohun Bagan remained winless in the 2019 Calcutta Football League (CFL) as they only managed a 1-1 draw with Calcutta Customs at the Mohun Bagan ground on Wednesday.

Fran Gonzalez (21′) opened the scoring before Kimkima and Debayan Saha were sent off for their respective sides. Eze Stanly (89′) salvaged a draw for the minnows as the defending champions slipped further after their embarrassing 3-0 loss to Peerless SC in their campaign opener.

Kibu Vicuna made three changes to the Bagan XI from their Durand Cup match against ATK reserves last week. Salva Chamorro returned to lead the line while Fran Morante was left on the bench as Lalchhawnkima (Kimkima) partnered Gonzalez in the heart of defense. Shilton D’Silva was paired with Joseba Beitia in midfield.

Goalkeeper Sankar Roy was put under the pump right at the very beginning as he negotiated a fierce shot from Emmanuel Chigozie. On the other end, Ashutosh Mehta penetrated from the right flank but his deliveries into the box failed to find a teammate.

The hosts pressed hard and despite failed attempts from the strikers in the Calcutta Customs box, Bagan got their opener through defensive midfielder Fran Gonzalez. The makeshift centre-half received the ball from skipper Gurjinder Kumar and lined up a shot, 23 yards away from goal. A powerful attempt left the goalkeeper motionless as the Bagan fans were treated to a goal of the highest order.

Post the opener, both sides upped their offensive game. VP Suhair’s attempt was kept at bay by gloveman Suvam Sen. Customs manager Rajib Dey brought on Philip Adjah for John Ampong to add firepower up top but there was not much action in either box.

After the lemon break, it was Customs who looked threatening. Eze Stanly ran past the Bagan defence but in order to go for goal himself, scuppered the chance to equalize. Second-half substitute Sumit Das had Sankar in trouble but Gurjinder tracked back and swept the ball off the winger to negate any danger.

Just past the hour mark, Adjah ran clear on goal with only the ‘keeper to beat. Lalchhawnkima came from behind with a mistimed tackle and referee Pratick Mondal did not shy away from producing a direct red to the former Mumbai City FC man.

Vicuna brought in Morante to plug the defensive hole, sacrificing a striker in Chamorro. Alexander Jesuraj had two attempts in due successions but both of them flew over the bar. 

Customs failed to make most of the numerical advantage before Debayan Saha was sent off for a second yellow card in the 81st minute. However, they did equalize in the dying embers of regulation time when the Bagan defence failed to clear Amit Chakraborty’s flag-kick and Stanly poked in from close range.

There was no reply from Bagan as they scraped to their first point of the season. Mohun Bagan have one point from two games as an unhappy Kibu Vicuna walked off engaging in a war of words with his counterpart Rajib Dey, much to the ire of the Bagan faithful.

Swapnaneel Parasar