It was so near yet so far for Chennai City FC. After fighting hard and holding fort for the most part, the team had to settle for a goalless draw against Shillong Lajong FC in the I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.
The first half was action-packed with some scintillating moves and super saves. Chennai played as if it was in a hurry; its captain Soosairaj made a brilliant third-minute move from the right. He side-stepped a defender and further got past a diving Shillong custodian Nidhin Lal and unleashed a powerful kick. But his shot, which came from a very difficult angle, only found the side of the bar.
Two minutes later, Shillong returned the favour with a similar move. A. Koffi defied a defender and found enough space to fire at the goal, but an alert Chennai custodian Kabir came up with a fine save. That was possibly the only time that Shillong threatened to score; Chennai was in total control thereafter. It gained full control and the boys kept firing at the net in vain.
The second half was played on similar lines with Chennai’s star striker Jean Joachim being gifted with a lovely chance in the 46th minute inside the box. But the Frenchman, who was in close range, packed in a feeble shot, much to the agony of the team.
Kabir, Ravanan save the blushes
Koffi sprung a surprise six minutes later for Shillong. He was quick on his feet and raced past a sprinting Dharmaraj Ravanan. It looked like a certain goal but the young Kabir advanced well to save the effort.
Jagner frightened the Chennai defence in the 67th minute with a superb run and even managed to get past Kabir. The Swedish star had to just head it home but Ravanan saved the blushes for Chennai with a timely clearance. The next few minutes belonged to Chennai. Soosairaj, easily the day’s best star, cut well from the left and thundered in a powerful shot only to find Nidhin palm it over.
In the 74th minute, Kim did a Jagner by getting past Nidhin and, this time around, Rakesh Pradhan appeared from nowhere to save it for Shillong. The Chennai forwards were in full cry in the final few minutes but their efforts to score a win at home were unsuccessful.