Imphal, February 18 (IANS): Dipanda Dicka notched a brace and Akram Moghrabi netted the winner as Mohun Bagan came out 3-2 victors over Neroca FC in an I-League encounter at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Sunday.
Felix Chidi and Singam Subhash Singh scored the goals for the home side but were not able to hold their lead and allowed the visitors to get back into the game.
Felix Chidi was brought back into the lineup in place of Nedo Turkovic as Neroca FC looked to win and stay on top of the Hero I-League table.
Sankarlal Chakraborty made three changes to his side — Kinshuk Debnath, Yuto Kinowaki and Mallick replaced Rana Gharami, Faiaz and Raynier Fernandes.
The hosts did not have to wait too long to break the deadlock. Singam Subhash Singh robbed the ball off Kinshuk before chipping the ball over the custodian in the 16th minute to give his side a wonderful start to the game.
The celebrations of the first goal were cut short four minutes later when Akram Moghrabi released Dipanda into the box. The striker was brought down before he could get his shot away by Bishorjit and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot.
Aser Dipanda stepped up to hit the net for the tenth time this season and to level things for Mohun Bagan.
Just as the visitors thought they were back in the game, a failed overhead clearance by Kinshuk allowed Tondonba to find Felix Chidi who neatly slotted the ball past Shilton to make it 2-1 in the 24th minute.
A fantastic cross into the box from Moghrabi wasn’t headed on target by Dipanda three minutes later but he was forgiven for his big miss in the 36th minute.
Neroca’s defence was caught napping by Bagui’s cross and this time Dipanda made no mistake and for the second time in the game Mohun Bagan were level. Bagan kept piling on the pressure and were rewarded on the stroke of half-time.
Nikhil Kadam’s cross was flicked across the face of goal by Kinowaki into the path of Akram Moghrabi. The striker nodded the ball in from close-range to make it 3-2.
Subash threatened twice after the restart. A dangerous cross by the forward forced a good save from Shilton Paul with Sushil lurking behind the goalie to head the incoming ball into the net in the 70th minute.
A minute later, Subhash Singh took the entire Bagan defence out of the equation with a delightful flick to release Felix Chidi. Unfortunately for the striker, the ball was behind him as he had made the run early and hence could not get his shot away.
Neroca built regular attacks as the game progressed but Gift Raikhan’s men weren’t able to penetrate the Bagan defence, thereby ending the game on the losing side and leaving the title race unpredictable.
There hasn’t been any change in the league table but Neroca FC’s title hopes has been severely dented after the loss.