By I-League Media
KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan climbed to the top of the table following an exciting 90 minutes of football tonight which resulted in a 1-1 draw with Shillong Lajong at the Barasat Stadium.
In the 30th minute, Konsham Singh sent the away team bench into a delirium as he netted his maiden goal in the ongoing Hero I-League. But eventually, the Reds’ lead was cancelled out by Jeje Lalpekhlua in the 59th minute.
Sanjoy Sen started with Sarthak Golui as the U-22 player on the right side of defence with Kean Lewis and Sony Norde starting on the wings.
Thangboi Singto, meanwhile, persisted with Fabio Pena and Uilliams Souza up front with Penn Orji the midfield creator.
It was the away side who started with an attacking intent with Uilliams and Penn combining well against a stuttering Mohun Bagan backline.
Even before ten minutes, Penn Orji was almost through on goal after a one-two with Fabio Pena only to see Kingshuk Debnath time his sliding tackle to dispossess him.
This was followed by Penn Orji being allowed to go break-free as the Bagan defenders backed off, but his final shot from the edge of the box was high and wide, leaving a lot to be desired.
Mohun Bagan finally had a chance in the 17th minute when Bikramjit Singh was set up on the edge of the box by Jeje, only to see him smash it over.
Debjit Majumder saved the day for the Mariners’ as he was alert and collected Uilliams through ball before Fabio Pena could reach it.
Bagan had two shots from Jeje and Norde but they were blocked a couple of minutes before the half-an-hour mark before Lajong picked up a well-deserved lead.
The corner came after Debjit had to save Bagan yet again after Uilliams left two defenders for dead before squaring the ball to Pena, whose shot was somehow parried away by Debjit.
Uilliams’ delivery from the flag kick was flicked towards goal by Aiborlang Khongjee, allowing Konsham who had evaded his marker, Golui easily, to tap it into the empty net for the easiest of goals.
The goal seemed to have shocked Bagan out of their comfort zone and they could have had the equaliser merely two minutes later after Kahit failed to hold on to a Katsumi corner. Luciano’s shot towards goal reached Norde whose flick was kept out by a goal line save from Aiborlang Khongjee.
Three minutes before the half-time, Fabio Pena was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but a flying tackle from Kinghsuk Debnath saved the day before he could pull the trigger.
With time running out, Shillong could have doubled their lead after yet another corner but Dhanachandra was there at hand, to head it out for the goal line.
Mohun Bagan began with gusto in the second half but it was only after Balwant Singh was brought on, in place of Cornell Glen that there was actual output on the field.
Sony Norde left two defenders for dead in the 55th minute before his shot towards goal was kept out by Kahit, after Aibor had got a touch to it.
In the 60th minute, Bagan finally had the equaliser following a deft touch by Jeje who set himself up. Sony had found Bikramjit on the edge of the box, who passed it to Jeje marked by Aibor. The first touch took Aibor out of the game and allowed Jeje to put it past the legs of a stretching Kahit.
In spite of relentless Bagan pressing, Lajong somehow held on to their nerves.
In the 80th minute, Bagan wasted two chances to bury the match for good. First it was Norde who beat his marker yet again and placed a picture perfect ball for Jeje whose shot towards goal was somehow tipped over by Kahit.
Yet another chance went begging from the corner after the ball came out to Sony. His cross towards the far post saw Balwant unmarked but his attempt to be the hero of the match was foiled by the crossbar which came in the way of his powerful header.
Snapshots from Dhanachandra and Souvik Chakraborty in the dying minutes yielded nothing as Bagan had to be contented with a point.