Laggards Mohammedan Sporting received a big blow in their relegation battle as they remained rooted to the bottom half after being held 1-1 by 10-man United SC in their I-League fixture here on Saturday.
Playing under scorching heat and energy-sapping sultry conditions, much of the action was restricted to the few minutes before the lemon break when Mohammedan Sporting took the lead with a flash of brilliance from Penn Orji only to be cancelled out by a Biswajit Biswas blinder.
United SC were reduced to 10 players after Lalkamal Bhowmick was sent off in the 66th minute for handing the ball but Mohammedan failed to take the numerical advantage.
The result meant that Mohammedan's sojourn is fast running out in the top-tier league as they now have 19 with three matches left, and are yet to win from their last nine outings.
The scenario is marginally better for United SC who remained on ninth place with 23 points after being winless from 12 matches and they have two rounds left.
Brazilian Luciano Sabrosa back in the side, Mohammedan began sportingly and had the earlier share of possession.
Sabrosa received a fine ball from a Taro Hasegawa corner kick but the Brazilian headed wide.
United slowly made their presence felt and Eric Brown was the pick of the lot as the Liberian medio looked threatening on the top of the box, giving Mohammedan Sporting some intense moments.
Mohammedan had the first opening when Orji got hold of the ball from a melee in the 44th minute but the purple brigade bounced back three minutes later when Brown set up a surging Biswas down the right.
Despite being reduced to 10 players after Bhowmick's double yellow, United looked penetrating towards the end but were unlucky especially when Tapan Maity's 35 yard long ranger hit the crosspiece.