Shillong Lajong FC held off United Sports Club as the latter took a two goal lead within 25 minutes of the game but SLFC’s resilience and impressive attack saw the match finish 2-2.
The Reds played out their first I-League match of the new year today against United Sports Club in Kolkata, after the two months winter break. The Reds had to play the match without the services of Taisuke Matsugae due to suspension and Milan Singh due to injury, both who would normally start in midfield. After drawing level against each other in the first leg held in Shillong last October, both teams were eager for three points to push further in the top half of the I-League table.
The home side started off brightly and pressed the visitors defence. Eric Brown who scored in the previous fixture between the two sides gave United SC the early lead in the 13th minute. The Reds were disappointed to give away such an early goal and tried to find the equaliser. But the home team pressed forward harder and broke the defence again in the 21st minute when Nigerian Striker, Waheed Owolabi Adekunle found the back of the net to double the lead in favour of the home side. Lajong needed to get back in the game immediately if they were to take any point at the end of the game.
With a two goal lead, the home team became more comfortable with possession and expected to go into the break with a two goal lead. The visiting team however were adamant on not giving up and their hard work was rewarded when Uilliams placed the ball from the left for Durga Boro, who made no mistake in putting the ball past the keeper in the 32nd minute, thereby scoring his debut goal for Shillong Lajong FC. The goal boosted the confidence of Lajong as they had more possession and created a few chances for the equaliser but United SC defence stood strong to hold off the attack. The first half ended 2-1 in favour of the home side.
As the second half progressed, the home team kept possession of the ball to hold off any threat from the visiting team. At the same time, they created few chances for their strikers but were unfortunate to not find the back of the net. The visiting team, who had made a tactical change at the start of the half by replacing Tuboi with Subash Singh, managed to put the ball forward on few occasions but were unsuccessful. Then in the 57th minute, Lajong’s Brazilian Forward, Uilliams Souza, received a through ball from Robin Gurung and converted the one on one chance by sliding the ball past the keeper, giving Lajong a well deserved equaliser.
The equaliser unnerved few of the home team players as they could not hold possession. Eric brown also received a yellow card for a foul, a few minutes after goal was scored. The home team were on the back foot as the visiting team mounted the pressure with attack after attack. With less than twenty minutes to play, United SC substituted Baldeep Singh in midfield and brought in striker Biswajit Biswas. As the game went on, both teams were cancelling each other out in attack as both team’s defence stood firm in holding off the attackers. Lajong replaced Lalramluaha Hmar with teenager Lalrammuana in midfield in the last few minutes of the game while United Sports replaced their goal scorer, Waheed Adekunle with Surajit Bose. Neither team were able to find the winning goal and thus the game ended as a draw.
With this result, Shillong Lajong FC are in the fourth spot of the I-League table with 24 points, while United Sports Club have 20 Points after 17 games and even though they are currently placed 6th on the table, the result of the match later between Dempo and East Bengal will most likely push them one or two places lower.