Shillong, Feb 22: Shillong Lajong held Gokulam Kerala FC to a 1-1 draw in their final home fixture of the I-League football match at the JLN Stadium here on Friday.
Following the result, Lajong are still stranded at the bottom of the table with 11 points from 18 matches whereas Gokulam have accumulated 14 having played one game less.
Gokulam Kerala FC drew first blood through a stellar finish from Marcus Joseph in the 43rd minute before Samuel Lalmuanpia restored parity for the hosts in the 65th minute. Mahesh Singh Naorem was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
Shillong Lajon FC started the game with two changes, goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa had to be rested due to his injury from the last game against Chennai City FC and he was replaced by Neinthovilie Chalieu while Kynsailang Kharsong was replaced by Rakesh Pradhan.
Gokulam Kerala FC, on the other hand, tweaked their team with four changes from the last match. Abhishek Das, Felipe De Castro, Arjun Jayaraj and Pritam Singh found their places in the starting eleven replacing Deepak Kumar, Ralph Alfred, Suhair VP and L Haunhar.
Gokulam began on an attacking note and the combination of Felipe De Castro along with Marcus Joseph kept on pressing hard making attempts in short intervals. Shillong’s defence line, which otherwise isn’t known to be the best in the business, ensured that the visitors did not get any clear chance to take an early lead in the game.
Shillong, on the other hand, tried to attack through Mahesh Singh and Kitboklang Pale but were unable to create any threatening moment for the visitors. The lion’s share of the possession, however, belonged to Gokulam Kerala FC as they were mostly dictating the game from the midfield.
Gokulam’s efforts finally paid dividends when a wonderful cross from Arun Jayaraj to Marcus Joseph saw the latter finding the back of the net through an exquisite finish in the 43rd minute. This gave Gokulam Kerala FC a much needed 1-0 lead at the halfway mark.
The second half began with Gokulam Kerala FC pressing hard but an alert Shillong Lajong defence ensured that the visitors did not get another chance to double their lead. Shillong Lajong FC continued their attacks on the counter but they finally got the reward when Mahesh was brought down by Daniel Addo inside the box having earned a spot-kick after the hour-mark.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia, thereafter, made no mistake in finding the much-needed equalizer for the red devils in the 65th minute. The game thereafter saw Shillong Lajong making a few attempts but were unable to find the breakthrough to win all three points to come out of the relegation zone.