Kolkata: Mohun Bagan struggled to get going against minnows United Sikkim FC to settle for a goalless draw in an I-League fixture at home here on Thursday.
Mohun Bagan thus opened their account in the table with a solitary point but still have a long way to go in order to beat the drop with 14 matches left.
United Sikkim on the other hand are on 11 points and are in second last position in the league table. However if one considers the situation that Mohun Bagan are in currently, Bjaichung Bhutia-owned side are in a far better situation.
United Sikkim dominated the proceedings and came close to scoring on more than one occasion with the green and maroon brigade putting up yet another uninspiring effort.
Eyeing their first win after returning from exile, Bagan looked disoriented in the first match at the Salt Lake Stadium after the ill-fated December 9 derby against East Bengal.
Nigerian striker Nuruddin Salau almost gave United Sikkim a lead after the kick-off, but his left-footer hit the post before a nervous Arindam Bhattacharya thwarted the resultant corner kick.
The Sikkim outfit kept on mounting pressure on Mohun Bagan and in the 22nd minute a long-ranger almost had them in trouble before the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper saved the blushes.
Mohun Bagan also had nothing going their way, especially Denson Devadas who had a shoddy outing missed two sitters.
Syed Rahim Nabi, who also made a comeback after being injured due to stone pelting on that fateful day, also failed to find the target, hurting Bagan`s cause.
Nabi missed an open net in the 35th minute with his header going wayward as Mohun Bagan seemed yet to exorcise the ghosts of the December 9 derby and its aftermath.
As a punishment for withdrawing the team at half-time against East Bengal, Mohun Bagan resumed their I-League campaign with zero after the AIFF lifted the ban till 2015.
It is not pleasant at all that I had to approach the court but there was no option left for me. I am glad that I have been proved right and it has lifted my morale ahead for the Asian Games.
Manoj Kumar, Indian boxer