KOLKATA: Kingfisher East Bengal were held to a 1-1 draw by newbies Bharat FC at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata today. A first half strike by Ranti Martins was cancelled by Kris Bright after the hour-mark.

Armando Colaco decided not to involve Milan Susak and Leo Bertos in the proceedings with an eye on the Kolkata derby scheduledon Tuesday. Dudu Omagbemi started from the bench while Baljit Singh Sahni made his second Hero I-League start of the season.

In the first 10 minutes, East Bengal had a number of half-chances with Baljit Singh Sahni playing the role of the creator. However, an off-target effort from an unmarked Lalrindika Ralte and a harmless cross by Harmanjot Singh Khabra couldn’t break the deadlock.

Kris Bright, the New Zealand striker of the travellers had the first shot on target in the 11th minute after taking a half-turn in front of the East Bengal box, but his effort was straight at Subhasish.

East Bengal had a good chance in the 23rd minute to go ahead but Khabra’s cross into the six-yard area was thwarted by an alert Arindam after Ralte and Ranti combined well to feed the skipper with the ball.

Only three minutes later, Gouramangi Singh connected a header perfectly after a Lester Fernandez corner, but was unfortunate to see his effort come off the horizontal framework.

In the 39th minute, East Bengal had a couple of good chances to score, but Arindam came at the away team’s rescue again, keeping Ranti and Khabra at bay.

The hosts finally drew the first blood in the 41st minute, when Ranti Martins received the ball in front of the Bharat box and exchanged an intelligent pass with Malasawmtluanga to go one-on-one with Arindam and kept his calm to slot it past the hapless custodian as the defenders were agog in an offside appeal.

Stuart Watkiss injected Steven Dias in place of Rajinder Kumar after the break and that worked wonders for the side.

Just before the hour-mark, Tluanga sent in a perfect cross from the right wing for Ranti, but the Nigerian’s header dropped once in front of the goal and then went over the target.

Bharat, finally had the equalizer in the 64th minute, when Kris Bright attacked an aerial ball that had almost been gathered by Subhasish and sent the ball home by putting heavy pressure on the goalkeeper.

Baljit Singh Sahni had a golden opportunity to put his team again in the lead, but failed to keep his piledriver on target after receiving the ball from a Nabi clearance.

With this result, Bharat FC earned their second point of the campaign, while East Bengal kept loitering in the mid-table.

Hero of the Match – Arindam Bhattacharya (Bharat FC)

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