Three goals apiece for Royal Waingdoh and Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerava Stadium saw the points shared. Realizing that a win would significantly boost their title chances, both sides played out of their skins. Despite the match concluding in a draw, the crowd at the Kanteerava were treated to perhaps one of the most entertaining I League matches ever.
Team Line Ups
Ashley Westwood retained his winning combination. He stuck with the same squad that trashed Sporting Clube de Goa 4-1. Santhosh Kashyap fielded the ‘Indian Messi’ Jackichand Singh as Nikhil Bernard was relegated to the bench.
Royal Wahingdoh vs Bengaluru FC: First Half bursts into life
With second place in the I league up for grabs both sides needing a win and went on the attack from the word go. Even as the home team picked up three corners in the first five minutes, the response from Wahingdoh saw Jackichand Singh and co hit their shots painfully wide.
The first chance of the game came when a magnificent long ball from Eugeneson Lyngdoh found Sunil Chhetri. The latter however failed to get the better of Royal Wahingdoh custodian Prem Kumar Singh.
Kim Song Yong converts penalty
With a third of the half played, Santosh Kashyap’s men found themselves with a prime opportunity to open the scoring. A shot from 20 yards out struck Josh Walker’s arm and saw the referee Pratap Singh point to the spot. Kim Song Yong converted the penalty to give the away side an early lead.
Robin Singh Pulls one back; Godwin Franco restores lead
Robin Singh reinforced his credentials as Bengaluru’s main striker as he scored with 39 minutes played. A series of skirmishes in front of keeper Prem Kumar saw Robin tuck in from close range.
However, the home crowds joy was short lived as a wonderful right footed strike from Godwin ensured that the Royals would have the one goal advantage. Even for ardent BFC fans like me, the majestic strike reminded us why we love football !
Second Half: Goals galore
When the players and fans returned for the second half, little did they know that a rush of goals was to follow.
Super sub Shankar Sampingiraj heads home; Josh Walker converts penalty
Shankar Sampingiraj was introduced for Thoi Singh and his presence proved to be the difference for the Blues once more. A perfectly timed jump and a vicious header from a Eugeneson Lyngdoh cross saw the defending champions draw level within the hour mark.
In spite of Jackichand Singh and Seityasen Singh coming close to scoring for Royal Wahingdoh, the Blues were given a chance to take the lead. With barely 20 minutes to play, Prem Kumar Singh made a massive blunder. A lovely long ball from Josh Walker found Aussie striker Sean Rooney in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
The Royals keeper eventually brought down the Aussie and conceded a penalty. Josh Walker, as he has done before, made no mistake as he calmly slotted in a goal to give the hosts a 3-2 lead.
Reagan Singh draws level; Match ends in a 3-3 draw
Barely a few minutes following Josh Walker’s penalty conversion, Reagan Singh (74) put the Royals back on level terms. His shot, caught a deflection off a Bengaluru player to find the back of the net, giving Ralte no chance whatsoever.
A few chances from both ends concluded what was certainly an entertaining game of football. The final score read 3-3.
The draw sees Ashley Westwood’s men stay in second position. However, their quest for the I League crown has taken a major jolt as they now find themselves three points behind Mohun Bagan. Westwood and co will certainly be hoping for a much better performance as the Blues face Mumbai FC on the 7th of April.