Result helps Rangdajied United level with second-placed Bhawanipore FC

Mumbai Tigers suffered a huge blow in its quest for promotion after going down to Rangdajied United in the second division I-League at the Football Stadium here on Friday.

The Nigerian Jeribe Kelechi scored the game’s only goal three minutes into the second half, firing home from Restom Khriam’s pass. The margin, though, could have been bigger; Babatunde Ayomide failed to convert a penalty while the team collectively missed a number of chances in front of goal.

The result sent Rangdajied level on 10 points with second-placed Bhawanipore FC, and into the mix for an I-League berth. Tigers remain a point behind.

High defensive line

The Shillong side held a high defensive line in the first half; it was risky play, but it seemed to be working. Paresh Shivalkar did help Durga Boro spring the trap once, with a neat overhead ball. The Assamese forward, however, shot over when he only had the ’keeper to beat.

At the other end, Korean Ho Jun Shin, outstanding when Rangdajied won the reverse fixture, saw his header saved from close range by Avijit Ghosh.

The goal arrived soon after the interval, Khriam breaking down the left with the ball before squaring to leave Kelechi with a straightforward finish.

The latter had stolen into the box unmarked at the far post; the Tigers’ left-back Nawab Zeeshan Rahaman should perhaps have done better.

Rangdajied limited its opponent’s openings even after the goal; Bhola Prasad — who did a fine job of marking N.P. Pradeep throughout the game — and Abocha Singh were excellent in central midfield in this regard.

Eight minutes after the goal, Rangdajied won a penalty, Karan Atwal deemed to have brought down an onrushing Shin. Babatunde’s spot kick, though, came back off the crossbar.

There was more profligacy on display. Shin and Babatunde had two simple chances late on, having only the ’keeper to beat. Both times, the shot sailed over the bar.

Tigers came close to equalising, but Pradeep’s superb free-kick was barely palmed over by Shambhu Mistry while Surkumar Singh’s effort in stoppage time clipped the crossbar.

The result: Mumbai Tigers 0 lost to Rangdajied United 1 (Jeribe Kelechi 48).

Positions after seven games: 1. Emta Mohammedan Sporting 14 points; 2. Bhawanipore FC 10; 3. Rangdajied United 10; 4. Langsning FC 9; 5. Mumbai Tigers 9; 6. Southern Samity 5.

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