Indian Arrows hold Neroca in Goa

All India Football Federation’s developmental side Indian Arrows played out a 1-1 draw with NEROCA FC in the I-League at Vasco on Sunday.

Sushil Meitei gave the visitors the lead in the 24th minute before Vikram Partap Singh equalised for the hosts three minutes before the end of first half.

Arrows head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh retained the majority of his previous line-up, with only two changes in the form of Aman Chetri slotting into the front three ahead of Harmanpreet Singh and Bikash Yumnam starting at the back in place of Saurabh Meher.

Hoping for a repeat of their stellar performance against Churchill Brothers, coach Venkatesh stuck to his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation at the Tilak Maidan.

NEROCA head coach Gift Raikhan, on the other hand, opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Gaty Kouami was reinstated into the starting XI, forming a double pivot with Chanso Horam in the middle of the park. Khaiminthang Lhungdim served in the number ten role, with Boubacar Diarra as the lone striker upfront.

The match struggled for direction in the opening stages, with either of the sides struggling to retain possession for long.

The first real opening of the match fell to the Arrows in the 15th minute. A great through ball by Ayush Adhikari found Vikram Partap Singh, who had made a well-timed run, but was denied in the nick of time by a calculated tackle from Ousmane Diawara.

In the 24th minute, it was NEROCA who took the lead through a free-kick about 25 yards from goal. Sushil Meitei was on the other end of the set-piece and his effort went over the wall and into the bottom right corner, through the palms of Lalbikhlua Jongte.

The visitors almost doubled their lead four minutes later, this time through Boubacar Diarra. The Malian forward was at the right place to head a Meitei cross towards goal, but his effort flashed a whisker wide off the woodwork.