Runners-up Churchill Brothers and former title holders Mohun Bagan settled for a goalless draw in their 16th round I-league soccer match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.
Despite six of their regulars out due to injury and cards, Mohun Bagan put up a spirited display, especially during the second half, and could have romped home victorious but for their strikers who failed to cash in on the chances they got.
Churchill and Bagan both stayed put at third and sixth positions respectively in the league table with 30 and 22 points after 16 outings.
Shubhas Bhowmick, the technical director of the home side will not be disappointed with the result as he had indicated during the pre-match briefing that a draw would be acceptable.
Bagan, who lost to Churchill 0-2 in the first leg of the league, started cautiously, concentrating more on defence. Churchill made their first attack in the third minute but Bagan keeper Shilton Paul foiled a Steven Dias attempt to forge ahead.
Bagan's defence played well to keep their fort in tact. Sagram Mandi, who played as a defensive screen, excelled and kept strict vigil on Odafa Okolie -- the deadly Churchill striker who took the field in the second half but failed to cause any damage.
Bagan also changed their strategy and went into attack as the match progressed. They came close to scoring in the 38th minute. But striker Muritaala Ali failed to head a Snehasish cross from the left in the 38th minute.
The second half saw the green and maroon brigade dominating the proceedings all through. With their medios Snehasish Chakrabarty and Jayan Sen combining well, Bagan produced a series of raids, though without success.
Bagan striker Muritala Ali wasted the easiest of opportunities of the day when, four minutes into the second half, he dodged past a host of Churchill defenders, including custodian Lalit Thapa, only to shoot feebly into the empty goal which gave Churchill defender Goaurmangi Singh enough time to make a goal-line save.
Churchill, who mostly defended their fort in the second half, earned a good opportunity in the 66th minute but Odafa shot out from inside the box.
Five minutes before the long whistle the home team came close to scoring again. But a stingy shot by Muritala off Chidi was smartly saved by Churchill keeper Lalit Thapa, who dived full length to his right and saved.