SC East Bengal’s agonising wait for their first ever Indian Super League victory continued after conceding a stoppage time goal to be held 1-1 by Kerala Blasters FC at the GMC Stadium here on Sunday.
In a battle between two winless teams, Bakary Kone’s own goal gave SCEB a 16th minute lead.
The Kolkata giants nearly secured their maiden ISL win from six matches but there was drama and heart break in store for the Robbie Fowler-coached side when it conceded the equaliser with less a minute left before the final whistle.
The 19-year-old Jeakson Singh headed the ball out of Debjit Majumder’s reach from a fantastic cross by Abdul Samad as the goal was an effort by two promising Indian substitutes who came in at the break to manage a rescue act for the Kibu Vicuna-coached side.
The result meant both teams remained winless after six matches but SC East Bengal (two points) managed to came out of bottom, overtaking Odisha FC on goal difference in the 11-team standings.
KBFC remained at ninth place with three points.
East Bengal looked the better team in the first half with Anthony Pilkington playing as sole forward making some fine raids, while Jacques Maghoma and Mohammed Rafique too made some impressive moves.
Rafique raided the Kerala box taking a through ball from Maghoma and squared it for a surging Pilkington on his left.
But a desperate Kone tried to intercept in between only to slide the ball into his own net, handing the ISL debutants their third goal from six matches.
Promising youngster Sahal Abdul Samad’s substitution at the break gave Kerala the much-needed spark in the attack but the red-and-gold maintained their slender lead till the disastrous last minute.
The 23-year-old came close to scoring first in the 66th minute when he took the possession from a Nishu Kumar from the close range but his powerful shot ballooned over the bar.
Five minutes later, Kerala Blasters almost scored the equaliser when Sahal headed the ball to Jordan Murray inside the box and the Aussie unleashed his powerful strike.
But the Robbie Fowler-coached side made a lucky escape with Debjit Majumder making a stellar save by a strong arm to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Kerala Blasters goalkeeper Albino Gomes also made a couple of brilliant saves, the best came in the 87th minute when his finger touch denied Maghoma as SC East Bengal came too close but remained far.
Earlier, the Kolkata heavyweights in pursuit of their maiden ISL win got the big boost with captain Danny Fox returning from an injury lay-off after his injury against Mumbai City FC.