KOKRAJHAR, BODOLAND, ASSAM: Mohammedan Sporting Club booked their place in the final of the 19th Bodoland Martyrs Gold Cup after they edged past Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) 1-0 in the semifinal played at KDSA Stadium in Bodoland, Assam on Friday.
Skipper Philip Adjah Tetteh continued his rich vein of form by scoring the winner in the 35th minute.
Going into the match coach Raghunath Nandy made a couple of changes to side by handing starts to Firoz Ali and trialist Saubhagya Majhi at the expense of Debasish Pradhan and Satyam Sharma.
The opening 10 minutes was a rather scrappy affair, with both teams unable to hold onto the ball long enough to create any decent scoring opportunities.
The first effort on goal only came in the 15th minute, when Charles Atcha met a left-sided cross from Safiul Rahman, but he headed his effort wide of the ASEB goal.
Four minutes later Adjah came bitterly close to opening the lead but his close range effort was superbly saved by the ASEB custodian Daoga Brahma.
Adjah then continued to terrorize the ASEB defense, setting up another two chances for Charles, but the Ivorian forward squandered both.
Mohammedan SC, thereafter, continued to press on, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 35th minute though Adjah.
It was a goal made in football heaven, involving a glorious passing movement featuring a number of players, and with classic one-touch football, they carved open the ASEB defense, leaving the Ghanaian with a simple tap-in.
From the goal onwards, Black Panthers dominated the proceedings, but poor decision-making let them down in the final third which saw Nandy’s charges went into the breather with only a solitary goal lead.
The second-half saw Mohammedan SC continue to attack with ease, but Daoga kept his side in the contest with a number of fine saves, including one to deny Adjah his brace in the 54th minute.
However, some sloppy defending from Black Panthers 15 minutes into the second-half gave ASEB the chance to equalize, but Laltu Mondal did very well as he came out to block Jwambla Brahma from close range, before Karma Narzary missed the target on the follow-up.
Mohammedan SC then took the ball up to the opposite end of the pitch and looked set to double their lead when Charles arrived unmarked in the box to get on the end of a cross, but his header was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Daoga.
The game remained on a knife-edge, making for riveting viewing as both teams pushed and probed for a breakthrough.
ASEB were certainly still very much in the game, and Laltu was at it again when he showed fantastic reflexes to keep out Karma’s point-blank volley in the 76th minute.
Opportunities then followed for Black Panthers to kill off the game, but Firoz Ali miscued with a back-post volley, before Adjah had a shot in the box blocked.
While the game neared the conclusion ASEB players started protesting against referee’s every decision and didn’t want to continue playing. Situation went from bad to worse when fans invaded the pitch and Mohammedan SC players had to be escorted from the field
When the game finally resumed, Mohammedan SC were able to survive the final few minutes without much threat to their goal to setup a final date with old foes Oil India on Sunday.