Hosts NEROCA shared spoils with Aizawl at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Saturday.
The hosts lined up in a 4-2-3-1 change with head coach Gift Raikhan making three changes from the side which defeated Gokulam Kerala as Dhananjoy Singh, Aryn Glen Williams and Pritam Singh were replaced by Govin Singh Moirangthem, Nedo Turkovic and Yumnam Gopi Singh respectively. As for the visitors Aizawl, Paulo Meneses brought in Lalthathanga Khawlhring, David Lalrinmuana and Shylo Mamsawmtluanga for Lalrosanga, Albert Zohmingmawia and Yugo Kobayashi as they opted for a 4-3-3 shape.
NEROCA dominated in the first quarter of the match; it was in the seventh minute that Felix Chidi drew defender Masih Saighani out of possession to surge forward with the ball before sending it to Gopi Singh on the right. Failing to get a touch on the delivery, Gopi Singh missed the chance to put it past custodian Avilash Paul.
In the 23rd minute, Nigerian Chidi found space between two defenders just outside the box and released a shot from distance. The effort, however, went wide of the target.
Around the half hour mark, Aizawl had a chance when David Lalrinmuana’s elevated delivery from the corner was met with the head of striker Leonce Dodoz but the Ivorian failed to keep it on target.
In the dying moments of the first half, NEROCA had the best chance of the match when Subash Singh’s pitch-perfect cross from the right flank was aimed for Nedo Turkovic in front of the goal. The 28-year-old centre-forward failed to connect from close-range.
Around the one hour mark, NEROCA troubled the Aizawl defence again as Felix Chidi got the better of Alfred Jaryan and co. to shoot at the goal but missed the target by a close margin.
The drama intensified in the 73rd minute as David Lalrinmuana’s shot was ruled offside by the linesman.
In the 92nd minute, 29-year-old Dodoz had the final chance to redeem Aizawl but his right-footed shot went wide after Andrei Ionescu’s lobbed ball found him inside the 18-yard-box.
The 0-0 result means that NEROCA now have 28 points from 15 matches while Aizawl have 17 points from 13 fixtures.