The Australian's wait to taste a Dempo win in the I-League continues as the Shillong-based came back from two goals down to hold the five time champions
The Goans had taken the early advantage with Beto finding the back of the net in the sixth minute before they went into the break with a two-goal advantage as Billy Mehtmet scored his first I-League goal in three matches from the spot.
Santosh Kashyap's men however fought back with goals scored by T.Lalnunpuia and Sandesh Gadkari in the 60th and 80th minutes respectively to force the visitor to split points.
There were as many as five changes in the starting line-up of Rangdajied United as compared to the eleven that lost 3-0 to Bengaluru FC last weekend, while Arthur Papas made two changes of his own with Shallum Pires and Peter Carvalho replacing Samir Naik and Godwin Franco.
Playing their first ever home match of the tournament, Rangdajied United, backed by the vociferous Friday afternoon crowd, didn't get the start they wanted as Beto forced them on the backfoot.
With Lamine Tamba the only foreigner in the squad, the home team thereafter did struggle to find their foot. Although they soon settled down and had a shot at goal when skipper Eugeneson Lyngdoh threaded the ball through the strong Dempo defence for Restomwell Khriam, who controlled the ball well and took a left footed attempt that went whistling past the bar.
Gaining confidence, the home team upped their tempo and unleashed a series of attack from midfield, with Lyngdoh pulling the strings. Santosh Kashyap's side however couldn't breached the Dempo defence, who were playing in the absence of their head coach Arthur Papas.
Dempo then reminded the hosts of their own cutting edge, as in the 35th minute, after some elaborate build-up, Jeje Lalpekhlua unleashed a shot that went just inches wide. Rangdajied responded with Lannunpuia and Thomas Saikhom playing a one touch game from the centre before passing it to David Ngaihte as the latter then rounded off two defenders but saw his shot miss the target.
Just when it looked that Rangdajied had managed to get to half-time with just a goal’s deficit, Saikhom brought down Billy Mehmet inside the box, with the referee giving a penalty to the away side. The London-based striker got up and slotted home from the spot, to give his side a two goal lead.
After the change of ends, the home team attacked with renewed vigour as Lalnunpuia whipped in a scorcher from just outside the edge of the box to send the capacity crowd erupting in joy. Gaining confidence from the goal, Rangdajied looked a different team as they kept the pressure on the visitors. They created chances after chances but failed to make any difference.
In the 70th minute Timothy Lugun nearly came up with the equaliser when his rasping left-footer went straight to the goalkeeper. Keeping the pressure on, Rangdajied were soon rewarded with the equaliser when substitute Sandesh Gadkari placed the ball into the far post.
The last few minutes saw the Meghalaya team coming all out in the attack, looking for the winner. Substitute Elam Abocha Singh in the 88th minute dribbled past two defenders as he forced Subhashish to come up with another diving save from inside the box.
However, in the end, the home team had to remain content with just a point. They have now registered one point from three matches, while Dempo have accumulated two points from as many matches.
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