The Snow Lions were once again made to pay for the wastefulness in front of goal as the midfielder struck in the final minute of regulation time to snatch all three points.
United Sikkim are in dire straits second from bottom of the table and as such, this game represented a virtual ‘must win’ for Nathan Hall’s side.
Unsurprisingly, it was the hosts who were quickest off the blocks and created the first real opening on six minutes. Lineker Machado sent in a beautiful cross into the box after some nice build-up play, the ball fell to Sikkim’s Spanish frontman Pablo Aracil but his shot missed the target. After that squandered opportunity they continued to pile on the pressure but could not affect the scoreline.
At the other end the visitors nearly made them pay with their first chance in the 14th minute. A sweeping counter-attack resulted in a shot on goal but Sikkim keeper Monotosh Ghosh ensured the scoreboard remained blank.
It seemed that scare was just what the Snow Lions needed and following it their pressure was constant and the chances came thick and fast. On 19 minutes, Machado was it again and another pinpoint cross this time picked out Nurudeen Salau but his spectacular effort on the volley rebounded off the post. Then, there were two more guilt-edged opportunities in quick succession but both Machado and defender Sandesh Jhingan fluffed their lines.
The final chance of the half fell the way of Salau but he headed just over from a corner. On the balance of play, ONGC were very lucky to go into the break with no damage done, while the north east outfit had only themselves to blame for not making the most of their chances.
Following the breather the Snow Lions looked to have picked up from where they had left off and created the first opening of the period in the 53rd minute. After a dangerous looking attack from the right, full-back Abhishek Das carved out an accurate cross which left Salau with a free header, but he mistimed his jump and skied the attempt.
Four minutes later ONGC stopper Robin Gurung received a caution as he hauled down a marauding Das. The resulting free-kick taken by Steve Hayes took a deflection off the onrushing Ashish Chetri and flashed dangerously across the face of goal and out for a throw-in.
On 64 minutes a rare counter-attack from Santosh Kashyap’s men saw in-form Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa left one-on-one with the goalkeeper but his shot blazed way over the bar.
Thereafter the home side kept barraging the Oilmen’s goal but still could not find the back of the net and they were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal when Eric Brown struck for the visitors in the final minute of regulation time, sending the home support into stunned silence.
Another flowing counter-attack saw Yusa pick out Eric Brown with a precise pass and he made no mistake smashing the ball past Monotosh into an empty net.
The result means ONGC continue their impressive progress under Kashyap and they are in seventh place with 24 points. Meanwhile, you have to wonder whether the dye has already been cast for Nathan Hall's side, as they remain stuck at the wrong end of the table with a mere 12 points from 20 outings.
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