The 63rd match of the Hero Indian Super League was a special one. It did not have a set of spectacular goals but there was the heroic performance from Debjit Majumder who inspired a gallant game by SC East Bengal, securing one point tonight.
The Red-and-Gold brigade kept their unbeaten run as they were at a major disadvantage almost throughout the match. Ajay Chhetri was sent off at the 30-minute mark after a double booking and a 10 man SC East Bengal team had to cover up the deficit. Goalkeeper Debjit Majumder’s superb reflexes made sure that Chennaiyin FC couldn’t get past him as he put on a valiant display of goalkeeping prowess.
The Marina Machans came into the match, high in confidence as they won their last fixture against Odisha FC, thanks to a brace by Esmael Gonclaves who returned from injury. The Red and Golds, on the other hand, were going from strength to strength and were riding on a 6 match unbeaten run. Bright Enobakhare was the man whose red hot form made this possible.
The match started pretty evenly as both the teams pressed for possession. In the 22nd minute, SC East Bengal’s Ajay Chhetri was booked for the first time, as he brought down Anirudh Thapa with his outstretched arms. Bizarrely, another challenge from him to the same Anirudh Thapa saw him collect a second yellow and a subsequent red card. It was indeed a rough challenge and the referee had no option but to send him off. SC East Bengal was down to 10 men, only 30 minutes into the match.
Chennaiyin FC now led the charge as they now outnumbered their opponent and created an opportunity just before halftime. Anirudh Thapa followed a through ball from Jerry Lalrinzuala. Daniel Fox‘s clearance proved threatening as the ball almost went into his own goal. But Narayan Das did well to keep the ball away from the goal.
The second half saw missed opportunities from both sides. Scott Neville failed to connect a header off Narayan Das’ corner in the 68th minute. A couple of minutes later, Debjit Majumder denied Rahim Ali from scoring from a one-on-one situation. The Red and Golds’ goalkeeper rushed from his line and cleared the ball just in time before Rahim Ali could collect Esmael Gonclaves’ through ball.
Chennaiyin FC again got a golden opportunity when Jakub Sylvestr missed and hit the side net in the 75th minute. Debjit on the other hand, again made a superb save to deny Lallianzuala Chhangte in the 84th minute. There were no other attempts in the 4 minutes of extra time as the match ended in a goalless draw.
What will go down as a draw in the points table, was actually a valiant display of perseverance in SC East Bengal’s books as they could contain the Chennaiyin FC attack without conceding. They will face a tougher challenge in their next match though, as they face league toppers Mumbai City FC on the 22nd of January. On the other hand, Chennaiyin FC will face ATK Mohun Bagan on the 21st of January.
Hero of the Match: DEBJIT MAJUMDER
Even though the match was a draw today, Debjit Majumder was awarded the Hero of the Match award due to his superb performance with the gloves. Scott Neville won the DHL Winning Pass of the Match.