I-League 2017-18: Late penalty strike by Amarjit rescues a point for Indian Arrows against Aizawl
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A change of guard failed to change fortunes for reigning champions Aizawl FC...

It was a sour start to head coach Santosh Kashyap's regime at Aizawl FC as The Reds  drew 2-2 against a resilient Indian Arrows side in Goa, on Friday.

Masih Saighani (40') opened the scoring for Aizawl FC which was cancelled out by Edmund Lalrindika (48') just after the half-time break. Leonce Dodoz scored again to put Aizawl in the lead but skipper Amarjit Singh's strike from the spot was enough to rescue a point for the home side.

Indian Arrows coach Luis Norton de Matos surprisingly omitted Abhijit Sarkar from the matchday squad for the first time after picking up an injury. The other change came in the form of Edmund Lalrindika who featured in the starting XI in place of Aniket Jadhav who was relegated to the bench.

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Aizawl FC's new head coach Santosh Kashyap started with a 4-2-3-1 formation and made two changes to the side that played a goalless stalemate against NEROCA FC. Albert Zohmingmawia and C Lalrosanaga were picked ahead of  Shylo Malsawmtluanga and L Fanai. 

It was a quick start to the game as Edmund tested Aizawl goalkeeper Avilash Paul in the very first minute with a shot on target. Aizawl were quick to reply when Andrei Ionescu's cross from the left flew past Jitendra to meet Leonce Dodoz's head. But the effort from the Ivorian was too meek to beat Prabsukhan Gill. 

Aizawl continued to attack and if it was not for a goal-line clearance by Anwar Ali, the north-eastern side could have had the opener as early as the ninth minute. Dodoz showed a clean pair of heels to Jitendra and managed to prod a weak shot past Gill who had already come off his line. The lack of power on the attempt allowed Anwar to come up with a clearance.

Gill continued his heroics under the bar as he perfectly timed his charge from the goal-line to snuff out a threaded ball by Ionescu for Dodoz before it reached the feet of the striker. 

Aizawl reaped benefits of keeping up the pressure as they drew first blood in the 40th minute through Masih Saighani. Ionescu did all the hard work to produce a brilliant delivery for Saighani who had ample time and space to adjust his body before slotting past a helpless Gill. 

It was complete dominance by Aizawl throughout the first-half and a 1-0 scoreline aptly represented the proceedings at the break when the players headed for the tunnel. 

Indian Arrows Aizawl FC

Indian Arrows was quick to find the equalizer in the 48th minute as Ashish Rai and Edmund combined brilliantly on the right. The right-back found Edmund with an exquisite delivery and the forward foxed his marker to trigger a shot at the bottom right corner.

Aizawl continued to pile pressure and six minutes after conceding, Dodoz restored Aizawl's lead from a pass by Albert. 

After falling behind for the second time, Indian Arrows started to see more of the ball as Aizawl began to slow the pace of the game.

Indian Arrows Aizawl FC

Rahim Ali's introduction in place of Naorem provided more teeth to Arrows' attack. The Blue colts were finally rewarded for sustained pressure when Lalrosanga brought down Rahul KP inside the box with a nervous tackle in a bid to win the ball. Skipper Amarjit Singh did not fail to convert from 12 yards to level matters in the dying embers of the game. 

Both sides did not shy away from searching for the winner but ultimately had to settle for a point.

Indian Arrows will now fly to Aizawl for the return leg on February 23 whereas The People's Club will be back in action in three days ' time against Shillong Lajong at home. 


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