It was a hot and humid Sunday. The last day of March, with the Indian weather now shifting towards the heat of April and May. The heat wave that's been prevalent throughout the city had it's effect on the Bagan camp too. Our coach had to step back from his usual dugout duties due to health issues. Bagan who were on a run of a wins, were looking to utilise their game in hand against the chasing pack and win handsomely at home against an opponent they had beaten earlier in the season. But as fate would have it, a display which was not only shocking, but regressive as well was presented to the fans who had come all the way to support the team. What went wrong? Let's dive in.

Manual Cascallana started in the dugout in place of the unwell Habas. He went in with a lineup which has been almost a regular this season, with Vishal in goal. The three man back was made of Subhasis, Anwar and Hector. In the midfield were Tangri, Abhishek and Joni Kauko. Liston and Manvir started on the wings. Upfront were Sadiku and Dimi Petratos. A 3-5-2 typical of how Habas has operated this season.

Bagan started the game well and looked to  dictate the tempo. Bagan had the better chances in the first 25 minutes, as Liston and Sadiku looked dangerous. Dimi was the creator in chief as usual and the team kept knocking on the door. Kauko looked dangerous too and his passing was a joy to watch. And the reward was served soon.

Liston turned his marked inside out and put in a beautiful through ball for Joni Kauko whose run was not marked by the Chennaiyin defence. This resulted in Joni having a clear chance to shoot and he didn't miss from close range. Bagan took the lead in the first half and hour, and the general notion in the stadium was more goals will come. The fans were ecstatic and celebrated like the game had already been won. But little did everyone know what was about to come.

Bagan didn't down the tempo and kept on pushing for a second goal. Chennaiyin however didn't go into a shell and started to play on the counter. The first half ended 1-0 for Bagan.

Bagan started the second half in similar 
fashion and put pressure on Debjit's goal. Sadiku had a few shots, Petratos, Liston all were involved. But Chennaiyin were persistent. And they were rewarded soon.

Jordan Murray made a joke out of Deepak Tangri as he turned him inside out on the right flank. Even after that the angle was a steep one to score and always favored the keeper. But he unleashed a low powerful shot and Vishal made a mess of it. The ball ended in the back of the net. The lead was gone. The top spot was gone for Bagan as well. The stadium felt like a vacuum, sucking in all the happiness and joy from the first half. But wait, there was way more to come.

As Owen Coyle had said,  Chennaiyin looked like the more eager side. And even after Vishal put in the save of the season, the Bagan defense faltered yet again. Ryan Edwards made a nuisance out of himself in the box and headed in from close range off a Crivellaro corner. Whom to blame? Vishal for not clearing the ball from his own territory, or the defense for allowing a tall player like Edwards to run free? That's for the coaching staff to determine. Bagan fans were stunned in silence. It was happening yet again. We were slipping at the last hurdle yet again.

Bagan were handed a life line when Bagan were awarded a penalty for a foul on Sadiku by Ankit in the 92nd minute. Dimi didn't miss and suddenly Bagan were back within reach. 2-2 with 4 minutes to go. One final flourish?

Flourish did come. But it was for the away team. Irfan Yadwad take a bow. A young Indian striker who was in the I League 2 last season. He rounded off an on rushing Vishal and calmly slotted it in the net. Chennai led again 3-2. Bagan did try to score yet again but it was too little too late. The final result meant Bagan stayed second on the table, a point behind Mumbai. With Mumbai set to play Hyderabad next, it seems a steep challenging for Bagan now to win the league.

As for Bagan, it was a night to forget. Some individual mistakes, some bad decisions ruined our chance to go on top of the table. And the battle gets even more difficult from here on. Punjab, Bengaluru away next with the last game at home against the current champions. If Bagan win, it will be nothing short of a fairy tale. We believe we can. The players need to wake up and give it their all.

Until next time, Joy Mohun Bagan!!

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