East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine was proud of his team’s performance as they beat Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 in a thrilling Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Friday.

The Red and Gold Brigade’s star striker Cleiton Silva found the net late into the second half as his lone goal made the difference and sealed the three points for the Kolkata-based side.

The result marked East Bengal FC’s first-ever Hero ISL victory over Kerala Blasters FC. Constantine was pleased with his players’ efforts throughout the ninety minutes and felt that this performance was long due from his side.

“Tonight, they fought from the first (minute) till the last. We were compact, tackles were being made, players were helping each other. I thought it was a very gutsy performance, it was aggressive. That is what my team looks like. We will look forward to the end of the season. We'll make some changes with players we have here and then we'll see next year, we're talking top six next year,” Constantine stated in the official post-match press conference.

“I thought the intensity level was super from the beginning to the end. No player wants to make a mistake, no coach wants to make a mistake but mistakes happen, it's what you do after the mistake that defines you, and I think today was fantastic. I'm very happy for the boys. It's not easy losing four games in a row and of course, we are East Bengal FC, not acceptable. But we've managed to win today and we've got three points and we look forward to the next game,” he added.

After being held up with a transfer ban that restricted the registration of new signings, East Bengal FC finally were able to field their new forward Jake Jervis, who made his Hero ISL debut. Constantine heaped praise on Jervis and highlighted his importance, his ability to link up and complement Silva in attack, and his impact on the team.

“You know, we played with two up front. And as good as Cleiton is, he's not gonna get too much out of playing against two defenders most of the time. So, Jake will attract one of them and Cleiton alone won't be one on one with anybody in this league. So you know, just him being there, Jake, he will tell you himself, it wasn't his best game. He has played for a couple of months. But he gave everything like everybody else did. And he made an impact,” he said.

Shouldering the responsibility of more than half of the team goals, Cleiton Silva took his goal haul to double digits with his goal against Kerala Blasters FC. The Brazilian is the joint-leading goalscorer in the league alongside FC Goa’s Iker Guarrotxena. Silva felt the service of Jervis would benefit him under Constantine’s system and stated it will be crucial for the team in the upcoming games.

“I think he will be a good asset for us because Jake is tall, he has speed, he has good control of the ball and (is) good on the legs. When I have the ball, I can look forward and see him, like I have (Naorem) Mahesh, I have (VP) Suhair, now I have him as well. So like sometimes before when I come out from the box, I lay the ball but nobody's there to receive that ball in the box. Now, we have Jake. So, I think he will be of very good help. You can see tonight’s match and can see the difference he made for us,” added Silva, who accompanied Constantine in the official post-match press conference.

Marking their fifth victory in the league this season, this was the first time the Torchbearers registered a victory with a clean sheet at home besides not conceding after scoring first. Constantine pointed out how the team is steadily improving and wants them to take credit for beating one of the top teams in the league whilst continuing the same momentum going forward.

“This takes time. You don't get that in six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks. This comes over a long, hard season. We have suffered this season, big time, partly because of ourselves. And today, I think when you see the performance, we beat Bengaluru FC twice, home and away. We beat these guys, they're in the top six. So, we are capable. We just need time and we will get where we need to be. It's not going to happen overnight,” he added.