The first ever I-League Shillong derby between Shillong Lajong FC and Rangdajied United ended in a 1-1 draw at the Polo Ground on Friday. Yohei Iwasaki opened the scoring for Rangdajied in the 18th minute, while Lajong equalized through a well-taken Boithang Haokip free-kick, with forward Cornell Glen seemingly getting the final touch.
In the historic clash of the crosstown rivals, Rangdajied coach Santosh Kashyap gave starts to four of his new loan signings – Subrata Pal, Gouramangi Singh, Manandeep Singh and Tomba Singh. The blues started off as the brighter side, and in-form winger David Ngaite forced a diving save from Lajong custodian in the 5th minute itself, after he unleashed a powerful shot from an acute angle.
A few minutes later, Manandeep Singh headed over a cross from the right flank, as the deadlock remained. The blues kept up the pressure, and with the game having passed the quarter hour mark, Rangdajied were awarded a corner kick. Hon jun Shin sent in a brilliant ball, as Yohei Iwasaki headed in to give his side the lead. The Rangdajied fans erupted in joy, while the reds inside the stadium were mummed into silence.
In the 30th minute, Cornell Glen was put through towards the Rangdajied goal, which forced Subrata Paul to come off his line and rescue Rangdajied. Shillong Lajong slowly started seeing more of the ball, as the blues were content in defending their lead. The players went into the break with the score at 1-0 in Rangdajied’s favour.
After the break, Rangdajied adopted a strategy of sitting back and playing on the break. Santosh Kashyap brought in Restom Khriam, Bhola Prasad and Elam Abocha Singh to stop the Lajong midfield from causing any damage up ahead. The reds continued to pile up pressure on the blues, but weren’t given much space up front.
Manandeep Singh meanwhile had a good chance to have a go at the Lajong goal withone defender marking him, but the forward failed to hold on to a cross from the right flank, as Lajong players heaved a sigh of relief. At the other end, Subrata Paul made a point-blank save from a Taisuke Matsugae header as the scores remained 1-0 in favour of the blues.
In the 71st minute, however, a well-taken free-kick from Lajong’s Boithang Haokip stooped dangerously towards the box, and the Rangdajied defence was left open by the ball’s movement. The ball went into the goal, with replays hinting Cornell Glen as the one who got the final touch.
With the scores now level, Rangdajied United tightened things at the back. Lajong failed to have a sniff at goal, as the blues slowed things down. The game ended with the score at 1-1, as both sets of fans clapped the players off the pitch.
With a well-earned point in the bag, Rangdajied United will next travel to Pune to take on Mumbai FC on 27th November.