Both sides played out an entertaining tie at Pune's Balewadi stadium with debutants making a telling display in a share of the spoils...
Goalkeeping errors from both he sides saw Pune FC and Shillong Lajong play out a 2-2 draw, in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi stadium in Pune.
Edinho twice gave his side the lead in the 13th and 56th minute, but Boima Karpeh replied with a brace of his own, with goals in the 51st and 59th minute.
Pune FC started with Jeje Lalpekhlua upfront alongwith James Moga, while Izumi Arata and Douhou Pierre lined up in central midfield.
Edinho Junior meanwhile made his much awaited league debut for Shillong Lajong, and partnered Sushil Kumar Singh upfront.
The Red Lizards started the brighter of the two teams and Douhou Pierre was given all the space he could have asked for, to pick out his wingers at regular intervals.
It was on one such foray forward that the hosts almost took the lead, when Karma Tsewang’s cross reached Khanthang Paite, who though, skied his effort over.
For all of Pune FC’s domination though, it was the away side that took the lead, when Edinho, who had almost not touched the ball till then, slotted home a Sho Kamimura cut-back in the 13th minute, after Thangboi Singto’s team dispossessed Douhou in midfield and hit the hosts on the counter.
After conceding, Derrick Pereira’s players attacked with even more renewed vigour, and it was Paite again who came close to finding a leveler, when Douhou played a corner towards him, at the edge of the box. The winger’s effort though, was blocked by the Shillong defenders.
Moga then hit a freekick from a dangerous area, straight at L. Ralte in goal, before Edinho on the other end almost got to the end of a cross from out left, but Abhra Mondal cleared it for a corner.
The Portuguese infact almost scored from the ensuing corner as well, rising the highest to meet the dangerous delivery into the box, but heading over.
With a breakthrough looking hard to come-by, the home side increasingly started hitting the ball long to Moga, in the hope that the lanky striker could conjure something up. However the Lajong backline dealt with him adequately well.
Edinho had another headed opportunity from a corner at the other end, but he headed over under pressure, as the striker continued to grow into the tie.
Jeje then had a glorious opportunity to equalize, but he hit over, after the ball had falled kindly in his path, inside the box.
Eventually though, neither side added to their tally, as the referee blew the half-time whistle.
Derrick Pereira threw in Boima Karpeh inplace of Douhou Pierre, in a bid to get back into the game, and the former Churchill Brothers striker re-paid his decision in the 51st minute. The forward received a pass in the box from Jeje, beat his man and hit a powerful effort, which the keeper could only parry into the back of his own net. The Australian did not care though, as he went about celebrating with his bench.
Pune FC’s joy though, was short-lived, as Edinho got his second goal in the 56th minute, when Abhra failed to deal with a regulation, looping ball, and hit it against his own bar. The striker was following up, and had a simple task of heading home.
The Lajong bench though, had hardly stopped celebrating when Karpeh scored his second too, getting on the end of a Othallo Tabia cross, with L. Ralte yet again failing to deal with his effort.
It was all happening in the second half, as a furious Lajong bench protested, as they felt they weren’t given a penalty soon afterwards, when a rather shaky looking Abhra Mondal, allegedly brought down Sushil Kumar Singh, as he tried to atone for a fumble in the box.
Boima continued to pose a lot of problems to the Lajong backline, however the game itself could not sustain the tempo that one saw in the first 20 minutes of the half.
Both the teams seemed to be content with a point, and that is how it ended at full-time, with the point moving Pune FC to 34 points from 19 games, while the away side now have 20 points from 21 games.