I-League: Wills Plaza double helps Churchill Brothers inflict first loss on Mohun Bagan
Churchill Brothers embarrassed Mohun Bagan 3-0 after former Trinidad and Tobago international Willis Plaza made a stunning return to the city, heading in a brace in the I-League on Sunday.
A brace from Willis Plaza that followed a first-half strike from Dawda Ceesay helped Churchill Brothers beat Mohun Bagan 3-0 and completed a horrible weekend for Kolkata’s football teams; one that saw East Bengal lose to Aizawl FC and a goal-shy ATK fail to get full points against Mumbai City FC.
After Mohun Bagan’s first defeat in five games, Churchill Brothers, relegated last term but reinstated because they requested and because otherwise there would be no team from west India, are now second on nine. Mohun Bagan stay on eight. “It is always good to beat a traditional power in India,” said Churchill Brothers’ coach Peter Gigu.
Mohun Bagan fans who had fetched up at the Salt Lake stadium hoping for a hooray that would seem sweeter because East Bengal had hiccupped on the road got their first shock in the 21st minute. Dalraj Singh showed a sense of position so poor that it beggars belief that Mohun Bagan are banking on him to get through the league. His attempted back-header to clear Lamgoulen Hanshing delivery fell kindly inside the 18-yard box for Ceesay who didn’t need a second invitation.
Two Plaza goals, in the 51st and the 55th minutes, both highlighting how much work Mohun Bagan need to do to defend as a team, snuffed out hopes of a comeback not that one, barring a Sony Norde effort in the 15th minute that hit the upright, looked imminent.
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It was a tackle that Yuta Kinowaki missed that set the move for the second goal going. Israel Gurung’s cross from the right was headed by Plaza into Dalraj’s shoulder and wrong-footed Mohun Bagan goalie Shilton Paul. The next goal too came from a header, one more acrobatic, and had Hangshing selling a dummy that freed Ceesay.
Mohun Bagan’s central defenders Dalraj and Kingsley Eze didn’t attack the ball and it gave the striker from Trinidad and Tobago his fifth goal in two games to leapfrog Chennai City’s Pedro Manzi in the race for the golden boot. Ceesay too could have got a brace but his 90th minute cannonball thudded into the horizontal.
That Mohun Bagan replaced Sourav Das with Shilton D’Silva in central midfield when trailing 0-3 showed where their problem lay. It was compounded by Abhishek Ambekar not getting adequate support from Norde on the left to deal with Hangshing, Churchill Brothers’ nippy wide right. More than one momentary lapse of reason from Dalraj completed the nightmare.
“This was one bad day, it happens. We need to work on our mistakes but there is no reason yet to give up on this team,” said Mohun Bagan coach Shankarlal Chakraborty. Asked if he took any positive from this game, the coach said: “I will need to think about it.”