Rangdajied’s hopes of first home win crushed

Salgaocar equalise late in nail-biting contest

HILLONG: A thrilling game of football saw Salgaocar deny Rangdajied United FC their first ever win in the I-League, with the Goans coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at the JN Stadium, Polo, on Tuesday evening.

Gilbert Oliveira’s beautiful long-range effort saw the League leaders leave the city with a point after Rangdajied had done all the hard work to take a 2-0 lead.

David KC Ngaite got the Blues off to the best possible start with a quick goal in the second minute.

With a free kick on the right flank, the ball was headed in by a Rangdajied player, but a Salgaocar defender was in the way. Ngaite, however, was ready on the left and headed the ball in powerfully.

Salgaocar, however, were not affected by the early setback.

They threw themselves into the attack, with lead goal-scorer of the season Darryl Duffy dangerous on the right flank.

Karma Tsewang was also a threat, clipping the side of the net with a ninth minute strike.

Rangdajied’s defenders looked a little sluggish in the first half and the visitors would have equalised in the 17th minute except that Rangdajied goalkeeper Shambru Mistry came out of the goalmouth to dive and save the ball before Claude Gnakpa could reach it.

T Lalnunpuia continued his excellent form and did the groundwork for the hosts to take a 2-0 lead.

With the ball headed into the box, the striker darted past two defenders and curled the ball across the face of the goal and Ngaite slid the ball in.

Even a two-goal lead did not appear to be secure enough for the Blues and Salgaocar earned their first goal out of a corner on the right far side.

The kick went deep and the tall Claude Gnakpa headed it in with Mistry out of position.

There were further good chances in stoppage time for the visitors, with Clifton Dias hitting the crossbar with a powerful shot from outside the box. Gnakpa was ready for the rebound but Mistry put it out after failing to collect the ball cleanly.

Although Rangdajied had a slender lead, Salgaocar came out after half time the stronger side after looking dangerous in the first session.

RUFC’s best chance came on the hour mark with Ngaite and Lalnunpuia almost scripting another goal with some neat passing between the two.

Ngaite’s ultimate shot, however, went slightly wide, with the Goans’ keeper Karanjit Singh brushing the ball with his fingertips.

Rangdajied were on the back foot for the majority of the second half and the action was centred around the hosts’ half almost exclusively with the Blues’ defenders having to make spirited attempts to keep the opposition at bay.

They also suffered a blow when forward Shin Hojun was stretchered off in the 65th minute after clashing with an opponent. He was later replaced by Elam Abocha Singh.

The top team of the season’s hard work finally paid off in the 89th minute when substitute Oliveira, outside the box on the left smashed the ball with great accuracy past Mistry.

Both sides pressed on, each earning half chances, but the match ended 2-2, spoiling Rangdajied’s hopes of their first I-League win.

In the other fixture, East Bengal secured a 1-1 draw at Sporting Clube de Goa.

‘Rangdajied not a

relegation side’

After the match, both coaches were pleased with the exciting match, honours shared evenly.

Derrick Pereira said that he fully expected Rangdajied to give his boys a tough fight and said he was thrilled with the one point.

RUFC’s Santosh Kashyap said that his team played well given the injuries plaguing his side and asserted that his squad of young players, some playing for the first time in the I-League are improving with every game.

“I know we are at the bottom of the table, but Rangdajied are not a relegation team,” Kashyap said at the post-match press conference and he further referenced his successful stints at Air India and ONGC in seasons past.

After eight games, the Blues are still in last place, with three points, behind Churchill Brothers on goal difference.

Salgaocar have 17 points from eight games.

The next match for Rangdajied will see them play Shillong Lajong FC in the maiden Shillong I-League derby on November 22.

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