Mumbai FC, relegated from the I-League earlier this week, were denied even a meaningless win to keep them in the hunt for a Federation Cup place by Shillong Lajong's Yuta Kinowaki's late equalizer.
The Japanese man's 90th minute goal canceled out Victorino Fernandes' second minute opener.
The hosts started with an all Indian squad in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Pratesh Shirodkar was introduced as a defensive midfielder whereas Nikhil Kadam was seen on the left flank. 23-year-old Siam Hangal also made his way to the central midfield, having supported Victorino Fernandes who took charge of the attack up-front.
As for the visitors, Thangboi Singto started Fabio Pena as the lone striker in the absence of Aser Dipanda who missed the tie following groin pain. Aiborlang Khongjee functioned as the right back whereas Rocus Lamare featured in the middle of the park.
The tie kicked off with an early present for the home crowd as the dull Mumbai side finally spiced up things. It was striker Victorino Fernandes who netted the first goal within just two minutes from kick-off. The striker scored a stunner as his flying delivery stormed into the net hereby leaving Shillong Lajong goalkeeper Vishal Kaith with no answer. Victorino's goal was Mumbai's second goal at Cooperage with the first being Thoi Singh's goal against DSK Shivajians on his debut, back in January.
The visitors stepped up well following the first goal as the midfield created several important chances. The trio of Yuta Kinowaki, Fabio Pena and Isaac Vanmalsawma combined well to test the Mumbai defense.
However, it was Isaac who stole the limelight for the Reds. In the 27th minute, he stood up for a set-piece. The delivery from the free-kick was thwarted firmly but missed the target by just a few inches.
Just three minutes later, at the half hour mark, the Lajong keeper goofed up. Vishal lost control of the ball and Victorino, wasting no time, took advantage of the situation. The striker took the ball past Vishal but ended up running ahead of the target eventually being distanced away from the goal.
Shilton of the Yellows and Blues did an excellent job in commanding the play as he often laid balls for the attacker upfront in the name of Faroukh Choudhary.
The two teams exited the pitch on a 1-0 scoreline at half-time with Victorino’s early goal providing the lead to the hosts.
The second half was dominated by the visiting side with Isaac again being the top player for Singto and co. At the one hour mark, the spectators witnessed an unlucky incident as Kinowaki's shot hit the bar and rebounded away from the target. Kattimani was fortunate to not concede from the spectacular effort.
Just two minutes later, Siam sent in a long delivery towards the left side of the goal post but a flying Vishal Kaith did well to stop the danger.
It was in the 90th minute that the visiting side leveled up with the hosts. Yuta Kinowaki sent in a stunning shot inside the net which couldn’t be saved by Kattimani as it came off one of the Mumbai defenders.
The goal at death meant the two sides walked away with a point each. Oscar Bruzon's team is now on 13 points, which means they fail to qualify even for the Federation Cup. As for Lajong, they remain on the fifth spot.