Shillong, Sep 10: Nangkiew Irat held off everything Shillong Lajong could throw at them to secure a point in a 2-2 draw in the first match of the second leg of the Shillong Premier League at the SSA Stadium here today.
It was a funny old game where both teams had the lead at different points, but the last 30 minutes were all Lajong and Nangkiew had their work cut out in defending against SLFC’s relentless forays forward.
The natural turf at the SSA Stadium looked attractively green before kick-off, but the rain earlier in the day had obviously took a bit of a toll, as players slipped and slid during much of the first half as they tried to adjust to conditions that were very different from the JN Stadium.
It was Nangkiew who first went behind when a defender failed to clear the ball away, which allowed Samuel Kynshi to pass the ball from within the box and Phrangki Buam scored from close range in the fourth minute for the fastest goal of the season and his sixth overall.
Lajong would go close again in the 23rd minute when Sheen Sohktung was denied by a terrific diving save by Maitshaphrang Kharumnuid.
SLFC’s Neithovilie Chalieu would also go on to make a diving save of his own around 10 minutes later and the resulting corner saw Roikhihbha Nongtdu leap over the pack and head the ball into the ground and over the line in the 36th minute despite the attempt by Lalwmpuia Hnamte to clear the ball off the line, which was in vain.
Nangkiew then showed great promise and appeared surer of themselves and then stunned Lajong by seizing the lead in the 43rd minute when Khangmiki Pale met a cross from the right and sent the ball into the back of the net. It was Pale who conceded a penalty with a handball in the first meeting this season of the two teams, which Lajong converted to win 1-0, but he made up for that slip today with a fine goal.
2-1 it was then at the end of the first half and the second was a tale of Lajong trying to get back into a winning position.
Although Nangkiew made nine attempts on goal in the second session, they were largely on the defensive. They did have a good look-in in the 60th minute when Nongtdu was denied by the upright, however.
Otherwise it was all Lajong and the Reds found the equaliser in the 66th minute when Naorem Mahesh Singh made a nice little one-two with a team mate to burst through the opposition defence and fire the ball low past Kharumnuid.
Following that one kind of expected that Lajong would find a winning goal, but no one told that to Nangkiew, who put up a brave defensive effort.
In the 86th minute Samuel Lalmuanpuia almost bagged three points for Lajong, but his curling free-kick struck the upright, rebounded into Kharumnuid and went out for a corner.
Tomorrow Sawmer will take on Rangdajied United at 5:30PM.
(TSR photo. Shillong Lajong are in red, Nangkiew Irat are in white)