Pune FC was held to a goalless draw by Shillong Lajong FC in an I-League 2013-14 Round 2 encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Sunday.
With this draw, both teams continue their unbeaten run in this campaign. Pune FC now have 4 points and are now fourth in the I-League table behind Bengaluru FC and Shillong Lajong on goal difference.
Coach Mike Snoei made two forced changes to the team that beat Mohammedan Sporting in the opening round, replacing Raul Fabiani (suspension) and Dhanpal Ganesh (injury) with playmaker Douhou Pierre and winger Velington Rocha.
Pune FC began the game on the offensive with Douhou, attacker James Meyer and defender Calum Angus, all going wide in the opening ten minutes.
At the other end, Lajong’s attack revolved around striker Cornel Glenn who too went wide on a couple of occasions.
Two minutes from the half-hour mark, Pune FC created the first close chance of the game. After a long spell of possession, winger Nikhil Kadam found Douhou behind the defence inside the box. However Lajong defender Jibon Singh recovered just in time to clear the danger.
The hosts too kept pushing at the other end and had another foreign recruit Brazillian Uilliams Souza go wide on several occasions.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Nikhil’s attempt from close range went wide after Rocha who did well to free himself up on the right flank and cross in. Both teams went into the break locked at 0-0.
The second half was much of the same as both teams continued to create chances. However both defences were alert to thwart rival attacks.
Midway through the second half, Pune FC survived a couple of close chances. First it was Lajong medio Taisuke Matsugane who headed into the ground but went wide from close range before Pune FC defender Calum blocked an attack clearing Uilliams cutback.
Pune FC however pushed ahead in search of the winner and went close in the final ten minutes. After Rocha’s dangerous ball into the box was cleared, Pune FC had Nikhil denied a shot after Douhou’s brilliant diagonal ball broke into the box only to be cleared. At the other end, Taisuke’s diving header went just wide.
In the dying minutes of the game, Pune FC went agonisingly close. Substitute Thongkhosiem Haokip – on for Rocha and making his senior debut – managed a header on goal from Douhou’s wide freekick. The header, however, lacked enough power to trouble the hosts’ custodian Vinay Singh who did well to hold on.
Man of the Match: Calum Angus (Pune FC)