A spirited effort by 10-man SC East Bengal led by goalkeeper Debjit Majumder helped the Kolkata side earn a vital point against Chennaiyin FC with a 0-0 draw in Indian Super League (ISL) at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim, on Monday.
Robbie Fowler's side went a man down for almost after Ajay Chettri was sent off at the half-hour mark, but managed to hold off Chennaiyin to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.
SCEB made three changes as Anthony Pilkington replaced of Matti Steinmann. New signing Ajay Chhetri was also handed his first start while Surchandra Singh was the other change. Chennaiyin made just one change as Edwin Vanspaul had his second start of the season, coming in place of Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev.
Chhetri received the first yellow in the 22nd minute for his mistimed challenge on Anirudh Thapa and soon received his second for a foul on Rahim Ali. This was the third time this season that Fowler's side had received a red card.
Chennaiyin had the first chance in the 23rd minute when a Thapa free-kick into the box found Eli Sabia. The Brazilian crossed the ball into the area to an unmarked Enes Sipovic, who couldn't get his header on target.
Chennaiyin pressed hard and nearly took the lead when Jerry Lalrinzuala played in Esmael Goncalves, who found Thapa in the box. The midfielder managed to roll the ball past the onrushing Debjit, but couldn't direct his shot goalward. Narayan Das cleared the ball to safety before Rahim could get to it.
Fowler's team looked threatening after the restart and should have found the opener when Pilkington hit the side netting from a tight angle. Then, Debjit pulled off a stunning save to deny Isma from the edge of the box to keep the scores level. At the other end, the Chennaiyin defence was caught napping as a long free-kick saw Pilkington try his luck, but Vishal Kaith made a fine block.
SCEB were saved again by Debjit when the goalkeeper came off the line to clear and deny Rahim. He later showed good reflexes to get a strong hand to Lallianzuala Chhangte's goal-bound shot.
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