Bharat FC held on to a 1-1 draw against Shillong Lajong FC in an I-League encounter played in Pune on Sunday. Lajong displayed a very superior performance in the second half but were very unlucky not return home with all three points after a flurry of chances in the opponents half. Surajit Bose opened the scoresheet for the home side in the 36th minute while Uilliams Silva equalised for the Reds in the 86th minute.
Shillong Lajong FC started the match without the services of captain Aiborlang Khongjee who is nursing an injury in Shillong. Robin Gurung also was restricted to the bench and it meant youngsters Pritam Kumar and Samuel Shadap were given the opportunity to start for Lajong at the back. Meanwhile, Boithang Haokip was back in the starting eleven after returning to fitness. For Bharat FC, a surprising move as Kris Bright was kept on the bench in the start.
The visiting team, Lajong kicked off the match immediately looking for a chance with a long ball in front but was ineffective. Both teams looked to find some rhythm in the game early on and tried to control possession. Lajong were quick in attack and causing the home team defenders a lot of problems early on. Omar and Dharmaraj from Bharat FC were shown a yellow card each within ten minutes of the game for preventing a couple of dangerous attack by the Reds.
As the match progressed, the home team started to have real chances at goal of their own from Subash Singh and Surajit Bose and led to nervy moments for the away team defenders. Cornell Glen had a good shot on goal on the other end but Bharat FC keeper, Arindam prevented the striker from breaking the deadlock. The game slowly gained momentum as both teams were finding a lot of chances in attack. A brilliant chance for Cornell Glen fell on the 31st minute after picking up a good ball from team mate, Penn Orji, but his shot went just inches wide.
But then the home side that were superior in height capitalised in the 36th minute when Surajit Bose headed the ball into the net from a corner delivered by Steven Dias. Lajong were disappointed for not defending the set piece better but kept working hard to find the equaliser. Even though Lajong had more chances at goal, the First Half ended with one goal in favour of the home side, Bharat FC.
Lajong had a great chance few minutes into the second half as the Bharat FC defence could not clear a dangerous throw in. But unfortunately for the Reds, it could not be converted into a goal. The visiting team played good football all around with neat passes into attack.
Meanwhile, the Lions defence stood strong in not letting a goal slip into the net. Lajong dominated possession and were eager to score the equaliser as they had chance after chance in the second half. Cornell Glen should have equalised in the 57th minute after twisting and turning defenders but his subsequent shot went straight to the keeper. Couple of minutes later, his individual brilliance saw him beat three defenders including the keeper but his shot unfortunately hit the cross bar and away from goal.
The host were completely on the back foot as Lajong continued to press forward. The wave after wave attack led Bharat FC Coach, Watkiss to make a couple of substitutions by replacing Surajit Bose and Rajinder Kumar with Tomba Singh and Kris Bright. Lajong could have easily put the game to bed with half a dozen goals, but they were not clinical in their finishing and the Bharat FC defenders worked tirelessly to not concede a goal. The Lions custodian, Arindam made a couple of superb saves to maintain a clean sheet in the first twenty minutes of the second half.
The best chance for Lajong came in the 72nd minute when Cornell Glen ran past defenders with the ball and passed it to Penn Orji who missed a great opportunity as his shot went over the bar. Then finally in the 86th minute, Uilliams Silva scored the equaliser for the Reds after receiving a pass from Penn Orji to place the ball easily in the back of the net.
Lajong completely dominated proceedings in the second half but were very unlucky not to find the winning goal as they deserved all three points. The match however ended all square as both teams had to eventually share a point.
Bharat FC were quite lucky in the end as the visiting team created havoc in front of goal. The Lions remain in 10th position of the I-League table with 12 points earned from 13 games and will host defending champions Bengaluru FC on the 24th of April in their next match of the I-League. The Reds on the other hand climb to 8th place with 13 points from 13 games. Lajong will return home to Shillong to play their next match against Salgaocar on the 25th of April.