Salgaocar FC were held to a 2-2 draw by Rangdajied United in an I-League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Shillong. A David Ngaite brace was cancelled out by strikes from Claude Gnakpa and Gilbert Oliveira.
The home side got off to a flying start as they scored the opener in the 2nd minute. From a free-kick on the right flank, a deflection off a Salgaocar defender allowed David Ngaite to head the ball in at the back post and put his side 1-0 up.
In the 27th minute, the hosts took an unprecedented 2-0 lead. A pass from the right flank was play into Lalnunpuia who was positioned just inside the box. His first touch and pace took him past his marker expertly and he drilled in a ball across the face of the goal for Ngaite to tap-on and claim his second of the game.
Lalnunpuia was lively in the first half and had the confidence to strike the ball on the bounce from 30 yards out in the 32nd minute but his effort was straight at the keeper.
In the 39th minute, Salgaocar found a way back into the game. Following a short corner from the right, Colaco sent in a dangerous cross and Claude Gnakpa leaped highest and headed in to make it 2-1 before the keeper could collect.
The visitors smelled blood and took the game to Rangdajied. In first half stoppage-time, the green brigade played some enterprising football but Clifton and Claude couldn’t get past the RUFC keeper.
A moment later, Costa sent in an inviting cross from the left flank but Duffy headed wide when he really should have buried the equaliser. That miss sent the two teams into half-time with the score at 2-1.
Rangdajied had a chance a minute after the restart. Lalnunpuia tested the keeper with a long-range drive but the Salgaocar custodian was upto the task as he managed to parry it to safety. In the 61st minute, it was Ngaite’s turn to shoot after a neat exchange with Lalnunpuia but he sent his effort just wide as he searched for his hat-trick.
Salgaocar dominated as the game progressed but created few clear-cut chances. Second half substitute Brian Mascarenhas fired over the bar in the 84th minute following a run down the left flank. A couple of minutes later, Ngaite dribbled his way past a defender on the counter-attack but his strong left-footed shot was saved by Karanjit.
There was a twist in the tale as substitute Gilbert Oliveira grabbed a late equalizer for the visitors in spectacular fashion. He shimmied past a defender and was then criminally afforded too much time and space to shoot from 30 yards out. His effort flew into the top corner in the 89th minute to level the score at 2-2.
With this draw SFC stay top of the table, while RUFC stay rooted to the foot of the table.