I-League: Mohun Bagan go atop the I-League table with a draw against Shillong Lajong
Defending champions Mohun Bagan failed to build on the momentum gained by their recent triumph over Bengaluru FC, slumping to a 1-1 draw against Shillong Lajong in Wednesday’s Hero I-League encounter played out at the Barasat stadium in Kolkata.
The visitors struck first as youngster Chinglensana gave his team the lead after the hosts failed to clear a scuffle in the box. The hosts, however, struck back after the hour mark as Jeje Lalpekhlua slotted away his second goal in as many matches to draw the home side level.
Contrary to most predictions, it was Shillong Lajong, who got off the blocks the quickest. The visitors looked vibrant from the get go and got their first crack at goal within the first four minutes when they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. However, Shillong’s Brazilian forward failed to clear the wall.
Mohun Bagan looked disinterested in the game and the first fifteen minutes saw a one-way traffic commence as Shillong stunned the partisan crowd with some delightful passing football. But just as the Mariners were looking to make their mark on the game, they conceded a scrappy goal from a corner in the 30th minute.
Williams managed to win a corner in the 30th-minute courtesy a fierce shot that was saved by Debjit Majumdar.The Brazilian’s subsequent delivery from the set-piece was met by Aiborlang Khongjee, whose glance was swiftly tapped into the back of the net by the opportunistic Chinglensana.
The hosts began to rally after going a goal down but the visitors held on to the lead going into the half-time break.
Sanjoy Sen freshened things up in the second-half and showed no mercy on his misfiring side. Within the hour mark, Kean Lewis and then Mohun Bagan’s marquee forward Cornell Glen were reeled in and replaced by local lad Souvik Chakraborty and the returning Balwant Singh.
The pressure from the hosts began to tell and they finally got their reward in the 59th minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua drew the sides level. A wonderful first touch from the Indian international helped turn his defender and a toe-poke brought the crowd to raptures at the Barasat stadium.
The next thirty minutes saw the reigning I-League champions go in search of a winner as Shillong seemed content to dig in deep and come away from Kolkata with a point. The green and maroon brigade came mighty close to finding a winner.
Everyone thought they had reaped the reward for their fierce pressure in the 79th minute when Balwant Singh sneaked into the back post unmarked, only for him to guide his header straight on to the post from a yard out.
The home team, however, failed to break a resolute Shillong defence in the final moment, as the visitors clung on to a valuable point when the referee’s whistle finally blew.
The result means Mohun Bagan are now on top of the table with 15 points while Lajong remain in 6th place with 9 points from 7 matches played.