Sreenidi Deccan held by NEROCA, suffer blow in title race

4th April, Shillong: Sreenidi Deccan Football’s title hopes were dented following a 1-1 draw with relegated NEROCA Football Club in a Matchweek 22 I-League clash here at the SSA stadium on Thursday. The Deccan Warriors created enough chances to win the game but last ditch defending and poor finishing let them down, leaving league leaders Mohammedan Sporting Club with a chance to clinch the title against Shillong Lajong on Saturday.

The first half saw a spirited display from NEROCA as they controlled the tempo and kept Sreenidi Deccan penned inside their own half for large periods. Sreenidi Deccan’s first chance came through Brandon Vanlalremdika as he headed Rilwan Hassan’s cross straight into NEROCA goalkeeper Jackson’s arms. Just before half time, Brazilian defender Eli Sabia headed Faysal Shayesteh’s free-kick onto the crossbar. More drama was in store as NEROCA defender Ronaldo Singh was shown a red card for deliberately handling the ball on the halfway line, reducing the hosts to 10 men.

A floodlight failure then prevented the restart for about 50 minutes and the second half saw Sreenidi Deccan take the initiative. Lalromawia and substitute Rosenberg Gabriel both had shots on target but Jackson stood firm in the NEROCA goal. It was the hosts who stunned the visitors on the counter-attack as they won a penalty which was converted by Rohit Meitei in the 70th minute. Sreenidi Deccan won a penalty of their own 10 minutes later and David Castaneda dispatched it.

Despite numerous attempts on goal late on, the Deccan Warriors were unable to find a winning goal and will now travel to Kolkata to take on Inter Kashi in their next I-League match on April 8.