Shillong Lajong and Chennai City played a goalless draw on Friday in the Hero I-League match at the JN Stadium in Shillong.
It was Lajong who had the upper hand in both the halves with some dominating football but failed to find the back of the net.
Lajong made two changes in their starting line-up as Alen Deory replaced captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Kenstar Kharsong was handed his I-League debut in the absence of experienced defender Juho Oh.
It was the home side who were dominating straight from the kick-off while enjoying most of the ball possession. Ivory Coast striker Abdoulaye Koffi had the first chance of the game at the 3 minutes mark when Alen’s through ball fell at his feet and he launched his shot, but the ball went straight into the hands of the keeper. Four minutes later he was again amidst action as Redeem’s cross from the left found him, but the striker failed to connect well.
The inclusion of Alen seemed to be the right move for the Reds as the forward was finding the majority of the ball on the right flank and was allowed to make his blistering runs. The hosts were enjoying the majority of the possession in the attacking half and were creating chances from set pieces but none of the efforts were threatening enough.
Koffi in the 25th minute mark had some fancy footwork outside the box before finding Hardy who failed to control the ball to go for a shot. Hardy soon went for a long ranger on his own but the ball fell straight into the keeper’s hands. Lajong had some follow up corners, but the Chennai defence was strong enough to clear out the danger.
Laurence then received a yellow and went into the referee’s book for his foul on Joachim. It was now the hosts’ defence who stood strong to deal with the Chennai attacks. The first half saw some more action in the Chennai City’s half but the hosts didn’t manage to break the dreadlock and the first half ended goalless after two additional minutes.
Shillong Lajong started the second half right where they left off. Substitute Samuel Lalmuanpuia shot one from the distance but his shot went over the post without creating any trouble for the Chennai keeper. It was then Koffi who dribbled past three Chennai defenders but failed to keep his shot on target.
Chennai too had a few opportunities in the hosts’ box but they didn’t manage to test Lajong’s keeper Phurba who rarely had to make a save. It was in the 78th minute when Lajong had their best chance of the half. Aiman’s cross from the left was intended for Koffi, but the forward failed to connect and the goalkeeper had to come up with a brilliant save to keep Lajong off scoring.
Seconds later it was Alen Deory who had a brilliant chance to open the scoring, but the forward’s venomous shot hit the bar and kept him away from getting his second goal of the season. Moments after, defender Laurence Doe had a collision with Chennai’s forward Murilo and both the players went to ground having injured themselves. The medical team had to take him off the field on a stretcher which allowed Lajong academy graduate Aiban Dohling make his I-League debut.
The hosts went on an attacking spree looking for a goal in the dying minutes of the game but all their attacks had been cleared away by the visitors. It was in the second minute of the four additional minutes Lajong had their last chance to keep the three points at home. Samuel Lalmuanpuia with a perfect freekick from thirty yards out which fell straight into the heads of Koffi, but the striker’s header went wide of the post. Both the teams had to settle for a point each at the end of the game which ended goalless.
Shillong Lajong FC will now host the AIFF developmental side Indian Arrows on January 8 at the JN Stadium in Shillong.