Karthik Krishnaswamy

Tiruvallur: Sikkim drew 2-2 with Uttarakhand here on Wednesday in a Santosh Trophy Cluster VI encounter here on Wednesday, the closest match of the Tiruvallur leg so far.

The result knocked Uttarakhand, which had lost 9-0 to Manipur on Monday, out of the tournament. Sikkim, with a point from this game, will enter the pre-quarterfinal stage if it beats Manipur on Friday.

Sikkim went ahead in the 21st minute through East Bengal star Sanju Pradhan, who switched positions regularly through the game, playing on both wings as well as in central midfield. Set free down the right wing, Sanju spotted Uttarakhand keeper Virendra Yadav off his line, and let fly at goal instead of crossing. The ball swerved wickedly and dipped over the helplessly backtracking Yadav to nestle into the far corner.

Stunning free kick

Uttarakhand equalised seconds from the half-time whistle with a stunning 25-yard free kick from skipper Jatin Bisht, hit with enough venom to render goalkeeper Karma Lepcha’s fingertip-contact ineffectual.

Sikkim regained its lead just two minutes after the break through a coolly slotted Sanju Pradhan penalty, won by striker Ingpohang Subba, who was pushed from behind by Ashok Kalakoti as he attacked a cross from left winger Bikash Jairu.

Fifteen minutes later, Uttarakhand equalised for the second time. Jatin Bisht made the crucial intervention again, picking the ball up in midfield and sliding it forward to set Deepak Kandari free down the inside-right channel. Kandari, who had come on just a minute earlier for right winger Prem Singh, finished with panache, slapping the ball low, across the keeper and into the net off the far post.

The result: Sikkim 2 (Sanju Pradhan 21’, 47’) drew with Uttarakhand 2 (Jatin Bisht 45+1’; Deepak Kandari 62’).

Thursday’s match: Railways v Assam (Cluster V), 4 p.m.

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