Shillong Lajong holds Mohun Bagan with 1-1 draw

Mohun Bagan and Shillong Lajong played out a 1-1 draw on Wednesday to keep the I-League championship wide open.

Shillong Lajong coach Thangboi Singto with Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen.

Shillong Lajong held Mohun Bagan 1-1 in a fiercely contested encounter at the JN Stadium here on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mariners go provisionally to the top of the table owing to their upper hand over Aizawl in the head to head contest.

Bagan drew first blood in the 75th minute when super-sub Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net, for the fifth time this season, with a lob. The visitor’s joy was, however, short-lived as barely three minutes later Lajong star striker Dipanda Dicka converted from the spot to restore parity with his tenth goal of the league.

While Bagan moved to top spot with 30 points after the tie, Lajong remains fourth with 24 points.

Earlier, Lajong clearly looked the better side in an exciting first half which saw a couple of chances each go down for both sides. In-form Dipanda Dicka got the crowd into the act as early as the 11th minute, creating a buzz in the Bagan defence with a bicycle kick that eventually landed safely on Debjit Mazumdar. 

Six minutes later, last match's hero Redeem Tlang almost got the breakthrough for his side when he unleashed a left-footed scorcher from close range. Mazumdar could back it only partially as the ball took a deflection and crashed into the far left post.

Bagan regrouped post the half-hour mark with the likes of Sony Norde, Katsumi Yusa, Darryl Duffy and Eduardo Soares in the thick of the action. A Bagan header in the 36th minute was denied by ‘keeper Vishal Kaith. 

Four minutes later, Eduardo's header of a Sony Norde free kick bounced over the post much to the dismay of coach Sanjoy Sen.

In the other end Lajong looked to maintain the same intensity and created a few chances for the Bagan defenders to deal with.

Finally, the deadlock was broken in the 75th minute by Jeje, who was brought in for Balwant Singh. A long ball from the midfield found the Bagan forward upfront and he chipped it over an advancing Vishal Kaith to give his side the crucial lead.

When the entire Bagan camp erupted in joy little did they know that the merriment would be curtailed soon. 

Three minutes later, Lajong substitute Fabio Pena's attempt from inside clipped the hand of one of the Bagan defenders. The result was a penalty and Dicka made no mistake to convert it from the spot much to the delight of the over 6,000-strong crowd.

The visitor was unlucky not to snatch all three points when a Katsumi Yuta scorcher crashed at a grounded Vishal Kaith. An inch on the right or left, and the outcome of the match could have been different.

In the end, it was a well-deserved point for both teams as both goalkeepers were at their best throughout the match.

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