Sporting Clube, Lajong share spoils

Shillong Lajong fought gallantly to hold Sporting Clube de Goa to a goalless draw in the I-League match played at Duler grounds, here on Tuesday.

Sporting Goa have 13 points from 13 matches, while Shillong Lajong moved to 11 points from 14 matches.
After Shillong’s poor performance in the last league match against the mighty Churchill Brothers, it looked as if Sporting would also have an easy outing.
However, it was the Shillong side who dictated terms in the first 30 minutes of the match.
The exit of Dawson Fernandes in the very 2nd minute of play proved fatal for the Sporting Clube, as Victorino Fernandes who took the field later in the match could not do much in the attack along with Japanese Seiya Sugishita.
In the 7th minute of play, Chitrasen Singh’s header off a corner by Lalchhuanmawia was swayed for a corner by Sporting keeper Ashok Singh.
Another glorious chance went abegging for Shillong from a misunderstanding between Mathew Gonsalves and the keeper, just outside the penalty box, but a brilliant sliding tackle in the nick of time by Mathew denied Friday Gbeneme to do the finishing act.
As the match progressed, Sporting skipper Samananda Singh came to his team’s rescue by thwarting Sushil Kumar Singh in one to one situation.
However, Sporting finally got their act together and came with some fine moves. Jovel Martins set up Victorino just inside the penalty box, but his strike hit the defender for a corner. A couple of minutes later a fine built up move saw Jovel set up Kalu Ogba on the left flank whose curling cross was poorly anticipated by Seiya Sugishita.
Then in the 45th minute Kalu found Pratesh Shirodkar just on the edge of the box, who after covering some ground drilled a low shot which was collected by Shillong keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte.
Shillong came with two good attempts on crossing over, but Sushil Kumar’s header was tipped over the post by Sporting keeper, while substitute Jibon Singh’s stiff grounder brushed defender Adhil Khan’s leg for a corner.
One of the best chance came Sporting’s way in the 64th minute of play, where Nigerian medio Kalu Ogba sent a defence-splitting pass to Victorino who managed to break the off side trap and having only the keeper to beat, poorly lobbed the ball over the post much to the dismay of his teammates and supporters.
At the other end,  Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s 30-yard stinging shot was pushed for a corner with a full stretched diving save by Sporting keeper Ashok.
Sporting coach Oscar Bruzon poured players forward in the final minutes of the match but the strikers failed to find the way past an inspired Shillong keeper.
Three minutes of added time and Sporting missed two scoring chances through their Japanese striker Seiya Sugishita, who failed to get the ball inside the goal framework from just outside the 6-yard box with keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte unleashing a string of superb saves.
Mathew Gonsalves of Sporting for his heroic display in the defence was rightly awarded the most valuable player of the match.
Meanwhile, Sporting Clube coach Oscar Bruzon seemed displeased with the poor display by his players. Loss of Dawson Fernandes at the very start of the match was also bad for his team. “The boys failed to combine and thus allowed the opponents to take the upper hand,” he commented.
Shillong Lajong coach Desmond Bulpin praised his boys. “A point against a good team like Sporting was a good result. If we had to score from the two good chances that came our way, the result would have read differently. If more of the Indian players get an opportunity to play upfront as Sushil Kumar Singh did, only then India will perform better in International matches,” concluded the coach. [NT]