The away side stretch their unbeaten run this season to nine games, but are in danger of being over-taken by Dempo in the standings.....
Unbeaten East Bengal were held to a goalless draw by Shillong Lajong in an I-League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong.
The draw means the Kolkatan outfit stretched their lead to 2 points against Dempo, but Armando Colaco’s side could over-take them if they beat Salgaocar.
The impressive Minchol Son alongside W. Passah was tasked with the job of keeping East Bengal’s strikers at bay, while G. Friday and Sushil Kumar Singh kept their spots up-front.
The Red and Gold meanwhile gave Lalrindika Ralte a start, while keeping faith in the strike-force of Chidi Edeh and Manandeep Singh. Robin Singh was yet again consigned to a place on the bench.
Lajong, who were coming into the game on the back of a confident boosting win over Pailan Arrows, started the stronger of the two sides. With the reborn Sushil Kumar linking up well with Gbeneme Friday, the away side’s miserly defence had to stay at their best to keep them out.
The hosts, who were unbeaten at home against Kolkatan outfits, had a couple of golden opportunities to go ahead, but failed to make the most of them. They could have been punished for this profligacy by East Bengal, but like so often this season, they did not have the cutting edge upfront, hitting straight at the keeper on two one on one opportunities.
The sides went into the half-time, tied at 0-0, which was perhaps a fair reflection of the proceedings in the first half.
The second half followed the same course as the first, with the Reds enjoying plenty of possession, but finding it real tough to find a way past the alert away defence.
The Red and Gold on the other hand tried to hit Desmond Bulpin’s side on the counter, but failed to find the back of the net despite a couple of presentable opportunities.
Sushil Kumar seemed set to win the game, late in the proceedings, but his shot from close range, after showing good control and poise in the box, was brilliantly blocked by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal, thereby preserving East Bengal’s unbeaten start to the season.
That proved to be the last real chance in the game, as Trevor Morgan’s side had to be content with a point, which sees them move to 21 points from 9 games this season, while Shillong Lajong have 11 from as many games.
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