Shillong Lajong were held to a 1-1 draw at home by ONGC as the visitors came from behind to claim a share of the spoils by cancelling out a Sushil Singh stunner...Shillong Lajong played out a 1-1 draw against an in-form ONGC side in an I-League round-23 match on Sunday.
The bustling Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was thronged with thousands of Lajong supporters, who had gathered to watch the Reds take on Santosh Kashyap's troops in what was a crucial fixture for them. Interestingly, this was also the first match played under floodlights in Shillong.
The match started with a lot of sparring as both sides tried getting a hold over possession of the ball. However, the home side went 1-0 up, much to the ecstasy of the crowd present. Striker Sushil Singh fired one past the ONGC keeper in the 17th minute, after some excellent play by the Reds upfront.
This was the first of many attacks in the ONGC box, as the forward line of Lajong tried to wreak havoc over the opponent defense at regular intervals. Kashyap's men hardly created any solid chances as their custodian T.P Rehenesh was the busiest of the lot for the visitors. The first period ended with the north-easterners holding the advantage.
The second period started very much like the first one did with both teams vying for the ball. Lajong created a few good moves and kept pushing for the elusive second goal. However, that left them vulnerable to counter attacks and it was during one such fight back that David Lalrinmuana pulled one back for ONGC in the 62nd minute.
Lajong however chased the game with renewed gusto after conceding and looked the better side for the remainder of the game. A golden chance came their way, when Boithang Haokip tested the ONGC goalkeeper once again, as his scorcher from nearly 30 yards out struck the crossbar and went out of play.
With the final whistle approaching, Thangboi Singto, the Shillong Lajong gaffer made a trio of changes by bringing on Taisuke Matsugae, PC Lalhimthara and Rennedy Singh respectively for Sho Kamimura, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Boithang Haokip; all in search for that match-winning killer goal.
The visiting side also used up all of their substitutes, with Santosh Kashyap bringing on Jatin N for Bimal, Katsumi Yusa for Muritala and Kailash for Parwinder Singh.
However, the changes hardly helped both teams' cause as the game ended very much in the deadlock.
Shillong Lajong now are on 23 points from 22 games and still stand a chance of getting relegated, especially with a star-studded Mohun Bagan side going unbeaten for 8 straight matches now. On the contrary, ONGC now have 30 points from their 23 games and are still a part of the top-half of the I-league table.
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