Chennai City and Shillong Lajong played out a hard-fought goalless draw in their I-League match in Coimbatore on Sunday.
Both sides created goal-scoring chances but failed to give the finishing touches to end the match in a stalemate at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
With one point from the match, Shillong Lajong remained at fifth spot in the league table with 18 points from 16 matches.
Chennai City, on the other hand, now occupy the ninth place with 13 points from 15 matches.
An injury picked up in the game against Mohun Bagan forced Chennai City goalkeeper Uros Polijanec to sit out the crucial fixture against Lajong.
Kabir replaced the injured custodian after an impressive outing as a substitute in the last match in which he saved a penalty. Aleksander Rakic and Jean Micheal Joachim were paired up front with skipper Soosairaj employed on the left.
Alison Kharsyntiew made four changes to the Lajong team that started in their last game against Minerva Punjab. Lachenpa, Laurence Doe, Lalrohlua and Novin Gurung were replaced by Nidhinlal, Joo-Ho, Hardy Cliff Nongbri and Alan Deory.
The home side came out of the blocks soon after the referee’s whistle. Aleksander Rakic’s inch-perfect through-ball split the Lajong defence and Soosairaj latched onto it as he ran into the box. The Chennai skipper’s delightful chip over the goalkeeper struck the woodwork.
Abdoulaye Koffi found space on the right channel as he surged into the box but the curling effort off his left foot landed straight to Kabir.
Set-piece specialist Samuel Lalmuanpuia delivered a delightful free-kick towards the far-post in the 18th minute. Aiban’s header forced Kabir to produce a finger-tip save to keep the scoreline intact.
Schumeiko’s poor clearance alerted Saihou Jagne at the stroke of half-time. Jagne passed the ball to Koffi who shot at goal but it wasn’t well-timed as the goalkeeper collected easily.
Rakesh Pradhan’s long diagonal was stolen off Koffi’s feet by an alert Kabir. The goalkeeper, however, missed the chance to head clear a long ball by Lajong and gifted an opportunity to Jagne who released a shot at an empty goal. Dharmaraj Ravanan rushed back to clear the ball before it hit the net.
At the other end, Rakesh Pradhan pulled off similar heroics when he rushed back to clear a deflected effort from Schumeiko off the goal-line.
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