The first Kolkata derby of the ongoing I-League season failed to live up to expectations and East Bengal and Mohun Bagan played out a goalless draw at a packed Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday. Despite having their fair share of chances throughout the 90 minutes, both sides failed to convert the opportunities as spoils were shared between the two bitter rivals. With the draw, East Bengal remain at the top of the standings with 20 points from eight games, while Mohun Bagan stay second after accumulating 17 points from seven games.
The game got off to a cagey start, with both sides seemingly comfortable with ensuring minimum damage. Bagan's Pritam Kotal and East Bengal striker Willis Plaza were at the end of half-chances early in the game, with neither managing to convert them into goals.
Three minutes after the half hour mark, Mohun Bagan had a great chance to draw first blood when a free kick by Yusa Katsumi was cleared for a corner and from the subsequent flag kick Norde almost drilled the ball in.
It was end to end stuff in the last five minutes of the first period as Wedson Anselme and Katsumi creating good moves for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan respectively.
In the 44th minute, Mohun Bagan's Shouvick Chakraborty showed excellent dribbling skills to get past a jungle of legs but his attempt was well saved by a diving Rehenesh who later complained that Duffy stamped on his hand during his follow through.
Tempers flared as a furious East Bengal captain Lalrindika Ralte pushed the Scotsman as others joined in the melee.
In the second half, East Bengal saw Plaza muff a gilt-edged chance when Robin Singh set him free. But even though Plaza managed to beat the sturdy Eduardo Pereira for pace, his volley was parried away by Mazumdar from close range.
It was riveting stuff in the final 20 minutes as both teams upped the ante in search of a goal. First, East Bengal's Wedson sprayed a ball to Narayan Das who whipped in an early cross from the left flank which substitute Thongkhosiem Haokip -- who had replaced Robin in the 67th minute -- failed to meet.
At the other end, East Bengal defender Gurwinder Singh deflected a Katsumi attempt which Rehenesh palmed away in the end.
Wedson made a darting run towards the end of the match but could not apply the finishing touches as Majumder narrowed the angle well. Substitute Balwant Singh -- in place of Jeje -- came close too, blazing over his header in the 88th minute.
(With inputs from IANS)