I-League: Determined Bharat FC fight back to secure 1-1 draw with Royal Wahingdowh
A highly determined second half display saw Bharat FC come away with a point against Royal Wahingdoh FC at the Nehru Stadium in Shillong in the Hero I-League’s round 12 encounter.
In a pulsating match, Jackichand Singh’s opening goal in the 31st minute was canceled out by a crafty Kris Bright header in the 85th minute. With both teams sharing a point each, the two sides retain their respective positions on the Hero I-League table. Bharat FC are eighth with nine points from eight games while Royal Wahingdoh FC are on fourth place with 14 points from nine matches.
Wahingdoh made the breakthrough in a frenetic first half
The match saw a frenetic opening with Bharat FC being pushed into their own half in the face of some sustained attacking pressure from the hosts. Bharat FC’s head coach Stuart Watkiss had spoken of the hosts playing their 3-4-3 formation in excellent fashion and on Saturday afternoon it was exactly what they did.
The front trio of Jackichand Singh, Bekay Bawar and Kim Song Yong seemed to stretch the Bharat FC defensive line, constantly trying to free up pockets of space. The first chance arrived in the eighth minute when Jackichand Singh ran on to a perfectly weighted ball from Densil Theobald but a perfectly executed sliding tackle from Ravanan Dharmaraj averted danger.
Bekay Bawar flashed a shot goalwards in the 15th minute, but Bharat FC captain Gouramangi Singh’s accurate positioning ensured that the ball cannoned off his leg and out of play. G Vignesh, handed his first start in seven games, put in a great shift in central midfield partnering Bobby Hassell and Romuald Boco.
The trio combined beautifully to release Lester Fernandez down the left in the 21st minute, but the nimble winger’s first touch was too heavy and the Wahingdoh defense regrouped and shut down the cross. The first goal of the game arrived in the 31st minute. Reagan Singh punted a long ball up-field from the right and found Jackichand Singh 10 yards from the Bharat FC box.
The attacker took a wonderful first touch, getting on the inside of Gouramangi Singh. The attacker then unleashed a powerful rising shot from the edge of the box and the ball hit the underside of the crossbar before going in.
Royal Wahingdoh FC continued to pile on the pressure, but the Bharat FC defense seemed to have regained its composure and shape, often shutting down dangerous moves before the final ball could be delivered.
In the 38th minute, Romuald Boco got hold of the ball in the center of the field, 35 yards from goal. The French-Beninese winger cut inside, dribbled and created a yard of space but unfortunately saw his shot blocked by a lunging centre-back.
In the last move of the first half, Mehrajuddin Wadoo almost got on the scoresheet as he powered a header off a Lester Fernandez corner. However, Wadoo seemed to have got too much of the ball as it ballooned and went out for a goal-kick.
Bharat FC fought back gamely in the second half
The second half saw Bharat FC play with increased attacking endeavor and though the Lions created a number of chances, the lack of a final ball seemed to hamper their efforts of scoring the equalizer.
In the 65th minute, head coach Watkiss threw on Palestinian international Omar Jarun for his I-League debut. The six foot five inch centre-back was deployed as a second striker and the tactical switch seemed to work wonders. The striking pair of Kris Bright and Jarun constantly harried the Royal Wahingdoh FC defense and a goal seemed imminent.
In the 85th minute, Govin Singh conceded a free-kick for handball down the left and Syed Rahim Nabi’s in-swinging delivery caused confusion in the Wahingdoh FC box. Kris Bright, prowling at the far post, directed a bouncing ball expertly across the face of the goal and ensured that the swerve of the ball took it over the goal-line and over the goalkeeper.
There was some late drama in the game as Loveday Okechukw was shown a red card for violent conduct. The referee also cautioned Bobby Hassell for his part in the resulting fracas. A few moments later, the referee adjudged that Hassell seemed to take too long to deliver a free-kick, consequently showing him his second yellow card.
With both sides reduced to 10-men, the contest saw a few more thrusts and counter-thrusts but without the necessary cutting-edge.