The hosts were unable to penetrate a solid-looking Shillong Lajong side and had to settle for a share of the spoils in a 0-0 draw.Neither Sporting Clube de Goa nor Shillong Lajong FC were able to break the deadlock in their round-15 I-League encounter at the Duler Stadium in Goa, on Tuesday.
The home side had to do without Keita Boubacar as the New Guinean defender picked up two yellow cards in their last match against Air India as Joyner Lourenco started in his place while the rest of the starting 11 remained unchanged.
On the other side, Goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, Wailadmi Passah, Lalramluaha Hmar, C. Lallawmzuala and Jibon Singh were the changes for the Reds from the last match among the 17-man named squad for the tie.
Quite visibly, Lajong's defense had learned some lessons from their 6-0 defeat to Churchill Brothers last week as they looked the better side not only at the back but also did well to create the better of the chances in the first half.
Among the early attempts Friday Gbeneme and Jibon Singh fired their shots wide, while Lajong earned several set-pieces in Sporting's half by the 30th minute.
Ten minutes earlier, Mathew Gonsalves' blunder could have been punished as he drove the ball away from his goalkeeper Ashok Singh because Friday Gbeneme was chasing him into the box but the Sporting defender was lucky to get away by only conceding a corner.
Sporting only started surging ahead late in the half as Jovel Martins played Ogba Kalu on the left side but the Nigerian's cross was too far from the onrushing Seiya Sugishita on the far side in the 39th minute.
Jovel Martins played a lovely pass through to Victorino Fernandes in the 34th minute, but the latter's shot came off Lajong defender Minchol Son around the penalty spot.
Lalramluaha Hmar's set-piece was crossed into the Sporting box by Friday, but Sushil Singh's header was tipped away by keeper Ashok Singh from close range in the 52nd minute.
In the 64th minute, Victorino Fernandes had expertedly beaten the off-side trap, getting past Lajong center-backs Wailadmi Passah and Minchol Son to meet Ogba Kalu's lob, but the Sporting striker's final touch was disappointing.
In another chance for the hosts, a well-worked set-piece between Ogba Kalu and Pratesh Shirodkar saw the latter cross into the Lajong box, but the ball happened to slip off the shin of Sporting's Joyner Lourenco for Ralte to collect easily in the 73rd minute.
A 30-yard free-kick by Lyngdoh was needed to be saved by Sporting keeper Ashok Singh in the late minutes of the second half, besides which Sporting's Sugishita missed two goal-mouth chances as the match ended goalless.
Sporting Clube de Goa completed the match with two injured players - Dawson Fernandes and Victorino Fernandes - with 13 points from as many matches, while Shillong Lajong FC have played an additional tie and have 11 points.
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