SHILLONG, FEB. 14
Shillong Lajong held Gokulam Kerala FC to a 1-1 stalemate in their final home fixture of the ongoing Hero I-League at the JLN Stadium in Shillong on Friday. Following the result, Lajong are still stranded at the bottom of the table with 11 points from 18 matches whereas Gokulam have accumulated 14 having played one game fewer.
Marcus Joseph scored the lone goal for Gokulam Kerala FC in the 43 rd minute but Shillong’s Samuel Lalmuanpia restored the parity for the hosts through a controversial penalty in the 65 th minute. Mahesh Singh Naorem was adjudged the Hero of the match.
Gokulam Kerala FC had 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.
The visitors began on an attacking note as Arjun, who was entrusted to lead the team, put up a stellar display. Most often Shillong defenders found it to judge his passes and Gokulam earned a slew of set pieces in the opening minutes.
Addo should have scored in the 23 rd minute but his header hit the woodwork. Gokulam’s efforts finally paid dividends when a wonderful cross from Arun Jayaraj to Marcus Joseph saw the latter finding the back of the net through an exquisite finish in the 43rd minute. This gave Gokulam Kerala FC a much needed 1-0 lead at the halfway mark.
Shillong, on the other hand, tried to attack through Mahesh Singh and Kitboklang Pale but were unable to create any threatening moment for the visitors. The lion’s share of the possession, however, belonged to Gokulam Kerala FC as they were mostly dictating the game from the midfield.
The second half began with Gokulam Kerala FC pressing hard but an alert Shillong Lajong defence ensured the visitors do not get another chance to double their lead. Shillong Lajong FC continued their attacks on the counter but their efforts went in vain.
However, they made it 1-1 through a controversial penalty after the hour-mark. The ball was nowhere near the penalty box when referee pointed to the penalty spot for a push by Addo inside the box.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia made no mistake in finding the much-needed equalizer for the red devils in the 65th minute. The game thereafter saw Shillong Lajong making 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 Kerala most is the marching orders of the Brazilian Midfielder Felipe Castro’s marching orders in the 81st minute. Gokulam Kerala FC still tried hard but their attempts were denied by the goal post twice and they were not able to breach the Lajong defence for a draw.