Barasat (West Bengal): Smarting from a 1-2 defeat at the hands of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan which more or less ended their I-League football title hopes, East Bengal will look to get their house in order when they take on DSK Shivajians here on Sunday.
Sony Norde and Azharuddin Mallick scored first half goals for Bagan on Sunday to deflate East Bengal after Bengaluru FC halted surprise league leaders Aizawl FC's surge with a solitary goal win earlier that day. That meant the title race was wide open.
But a poor display on the field by East Bengal meant their aspirations of ending a barren run stretching over a decade in search of league glory virtually went up in smoke.
Bagan are now top of the table with a draw against Shillong Lajong in a rescheduled match with 30 points from 15 matches while Aizawl are second having 30 in their kitty as well but being inferior on head-to-head count against Bagan. East Bengal are third with 27 points from 15 games.
Their case was compounded further as Trinidad & Tobago forward Willis Plaza was given marching orders in the second half for a needless challenge on Bagan centre-back Anas Edathodika. Plaza will thus miss their engagement with Shivajians.
A spate of underwhelming displays spilled over on Friday morning at East Bengal's training where supporters protested vehemently asking for coach Trevor Morgan's resignation.
Following the sacking of assistant coach Warren Hackett and goalkeeping coach Avijit Mondal, Morgan was left in the lurch about his future and faithfuls of the club let their emotions reach boiling point with slogans of 'Go Back Morgan' and 'Go Back Rehenesh' being heard. Goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh has had a lean patch too.
Coming to Shivajians, the Pune based side did not restart its campaign after the break on a high, losing 2-3 to Shillong Lajong at home.
The eighth-placed side has been patchy all season winning just three games and facing defeat in seven.
The last time the two sides met in Pune, East Bengal won 2-1 with goals from Wedson Anselme and Willis Plaza.