I-League: Lajong hold Gokulam to 1-1 draw
Shillong Lajong held Gokulam Kerala FC to a 1-1 draw in their final home fixture of the ongoing Hero I-League football tournament at the JLN Stadium here Friday.
The result means Lajong are still stranded at the bottom of the table with 11 points from 18 matches, whereas Gokulam have accumulated 14 points having played one game less.
Gokulam drew the first blood through a stellar finish from Marcus Joseph in the 43rd minute before Samuel Lalmuanpia restored parity for the hosts in the 65th minute.
Lajong started the game with two changes -- goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa had to be rested due to an injury sustained from the last game against Chennai City FC and was replaced by Neinthovilie Chalieu while Kynsailang Kharsong was replaced by Rakesh Pradhan.
Gokulam, on the other hand, tweaked their team with four changes from the last match. Abhishek Das, Felipe De Castro, Arjun Jayaraj and Pritam Singh found their places in the starting eleven, replacing Deepak Kumar, Ralph Alfred, Suhair VP and L Haunhar.
Gokulam began on an attacking note and the combination of Felipe De Castro along with Marcus kept on pressing hard and making attempts in short intervals.
But full credit should go to Lajong’s defence, which ensured that the visitors do not get any clear chance to take an early lead in the game.
Lajong, on the other hand, tried to attack through Mahesh Singh and Kitboklang Pale but were unable to create any threatening moves.
The lion’s share of possession, however, belonged to Gokulam as they were mostly dictating the game from the midfield.
Gokulam’s efforts finally paid dividends when a wonderful cross from Arun Jayaraj to Marcus saw the latter finding the back of the net through an exquisite finish in the 43rd minute.
The second half began with Gokulam pressing hard but an alert Lajong defence ensured the visitors do not get a chance to double their lead.
Lajong continued their attacks on the counter and they finally got the reward when they earned a penalty after Mahesh was brought down by Daniel Addo inside the box after the hour-mark.
Lalmuanpuia, thereafter, made no mistake in finding the much-needed equaliser for the red devils in the 65th minute.
The game thereafter saw Lajong make a few attempts but were unable to find the breakthrough to win all three points to come out of the relegation zone.
What would hurt Gokulam most is the marching orders given its to Brazilian midfielder Felipe Castro’s in the 81st minute.
Gokulam still tried hard to breach the Lajong defence with 10 men but the young Reds stood tall to deny the visitors any further opportunity to score.