Rangdajied United (in pic) were denied their first win in the I-League football, as visitors Salgaocar came from two goals behind for a 2-2 draw at the Polo Ground here Tuesday.
Coach Santosh Kashyap made three changes to the side that lost by a solitary goal in Pune, with Bhola Prasad, Joychandra Singh and Yohei Iwasaki coming in for Ambilstar Sun, Bansharai Sun and Abocha Singh.
Rangdajied United started the brighter side, and took the lead in the second minute itself, as David Ngaihte headed home a cross from inside the box, sending the home crowd into ruptures. The goal produced a response from Salgaocar, and the league leaders had a few raids into the Rangdajied penalty box, albeit without any success.
The blues settled for a low-line of play; and in the 28th minute, caught Salgaocar's defence napping, after David Ngaihte finished off a delightful cross from the right, following a swift counter-attack by the blues. The goal was met with huge cheers from the home crowd, as the boys in blue continued to create havoc in the league leaders' defence.
In the 39th minute, however, Salgaocar's Claude Gnakpa was left unmarked inside the box after the Goans had been awarded a corner, and the striker made no mistake in slotting the ball past Rangdajied custodian Shambhu Mistry. The goal left the hosts a bid jaded, and Salgaocar tried to make the most of it.
A minute into the first half stoppage time, Clifton Dias of Salgaocar brilliantly lobbed the ball over three defenders and the goalkeeper, only to see his shot excruciatingly ricochet back from the bottom side of the crossbar. Gnakpa's follow-up forced the keeper to dive to keep the ball away.
In the second half, both sides had their fair share of chances. The Rangdajied defence, however, did exceptionally well to keep the Salgaocar attack at bay. In the 60th minute, the blues were dealt a blow when Ho Jun Shin was forced to leave the field of play after taking a knock. He was replaced by midfielder Elam Abocha Singh.
Despite the setback, the hosts did a good job to hold back the visitors' assaults into the goal. Kashyap's men tried to catch the visitors on the break; and in the 86th minute, David Ngaihte almost completed his hat-trick, as he tried to finish off a counter-attack from the left flank. His shot from an acute angle was, however, well saved by the Salgaocar goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
In the final minute of regulation time, Rangdajied were dealt a cruel blow, as Salgaocar's substitute Gilbert Oliveira sent in a scorcher from outside the box, which went past the diving Shambhu Mistry into the back of the net, thus silencing the agonized home fans.