Mariners go undefeated in April
The Mariners went unbeaten in April as they added six points to their tally which now stands at 44 points from 25 games. After Dempo S.C. clinched the league title, the Mariners will look for a victory in their last outing to end the season on a high.
After their 2-2 draw against Air India in March, the Mariners hosted table toppers Dempo on the 1st of April. A missed penalty and two defensive lapses proved expensive as the Mariners failed to cap off a splendid performance with a victory. Odafa Okolie struck twice in seven minutes to put the home team ahead after a Ranty Martins penalty gave Dempo an early lead. Koko Sakibo's 76th minute equalizer meant that Subrata Bhattacharya's boys, who played their best game of the season, would come off with only a point.
Odafa rues the missed penalty against Dempo
The next outing against HAL on 6th April, at home, proved to be a disappointment as the Mariners failed to pick up maximum points against the relegation threatened side. The decorated strike force troubled the Bangalore team but failed to get a favourable result as the game ended without any goals.
With a chance to finish in the top 3, the Mariners eased to 6-1 home victory over Shillong Lajong in their next match. Odafa and Sunil Chhetri scored a brace each as Jose Ramirez Barreto and Rahim Nabi also found themselves among the goals. This was certainly a boost before a crucial away game against an in form Salgaocar side.
Jose Ramirez Barreto scored from the spot against Shillong Lajong
Anwar, who missed the trip to Goa through suspension, was sorely missed as the team from Kolkata had to settle for a point despite leading at halftime. Ishfaq Ahmed cancelled out Odafa's first half goal to deny the Mariners a victory in their only away game of the month.
McDowell Mohun Bagan currently holds the fifth place in the league table. The Mariners will look to finish the season on a high when they play their last I-League match at home against Pune FC.
Nabi needs to keep scoring for the Mariners
In spite of scoring nine goals in their four matches in April, the Mariners dropped six crucial points that could have ensured them of a second place finish. Technical Director Subrata Bhattacharya and Coach Prasanta Banerjee will take positives from the attacking intent shown by the team, but they also know that a few defensive loopholes need mending.
A finish in the top three would do the confidence of the Mariners a great deal of good and would motivate them for the next season.
Arnab Ghosh, a Ph. D. student of the Department of Mathematics, IIT Guwahati, is...