Lalitpur made to pay for missed penaltiesAzerbaijan forward Nurlan Zahid misses a penalty but Ranjan Bista comes from the bench to rescue a point for Lalitpur.
Lalitpur City FC missed a penalty in the second consecutive match as they were made to struggle for a 1-1 draw by Dhangadhi FC in their Nepal Super League football tournament match at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor on Thursday.
Lalitpur's Azerbaijan forward Nurlan Novruzov Zahid missed a penalty in the first half which could have given them lead and were made to struggle to score an equaliser after the break. In their last fixture against FC Chitwan, their skipper Anjan Bista also missed a penalty and were forced to a 1-1 draw.
Nigerian striker Oladipo Olawale Afeez put Dhangadhi ahead with his third goal of the league in the second half before substitute Ranjan Bista came to the rescue of Lalitpur with an equaliser.
"Obviously, missing a penalty puts the team under a psychological pressure and they can not perform their best," Lalitpur coach Pradip Humagain said at the post match conference whose side has yet to taste a victory. "Both Anjan and Nurlan are good penalty takers and they score in the training. Maybe, it's bad luck that they missed during the match."
The outcome leaves Lalitpur at the bottom of the seven-team standings with just two points after three matches while Dhangadhi are level with leaders Butwal Lumbini FC with four points. Butwal Lumbini have a match advantage over Dhangadhi.
Coach Humagain, however, ruled out his side being under any kind of pressure. "We still have three matches to play and we can make a comeback if we win all the remaining matches. The performance was really good and I trust my players."
Just like their previous matches, Lalitpur looked a better side with swift exchange of passes at the ground rendered slippery by rain. They dominated the possession and put Dhangadhi under pressure in the entire first half and also had their early goal ruled out as offside.
Lalitpur's Croatian forward Vilim Posinkovic's low tested goalie Dhangadhi captain and goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu in the 22nd minute only for the shot stopper to easily handle it. In the 25th Lalitpur captain Anjan Bista wasted a golden chance when he chipped an advancing goalie Limbu wide in a one-on-one situation from the area.
Lalitpur thought they had scored three minutes before the break when captain Bista collected a ball punched by diving goalie Limbu and fired towards an unguarded post. But defender Dinesh Rajbanshi rescued Dhangadhi with a goalline clearance.
Moments later Lalitpur squandered an opportunity to take the lead as they failed to convert a penalty after goalie Limbu deliberately elbowed Bista while releasing the ball from the area prompting referee Prakash Nath Shrestha to point towards the spot and flash a yellow card to the custodian.
Azerbaijan forward Zahid stepped to take the spot kick and applied a low ball strike at the right side of the post only for Limbu to grab it with a long stretching dive. In the stoppage time Zahid again wasted a chance in Kamal Shrestha pass.
But Dhangadhi, who made two replacements at the restart, came up as a better side in the second half. They forced goalie Arpan Karki out of the area in the 59th to clear Buddha Bal Tamang's pass to Afeez before the Nigerian forward could get it. Tamang's 66th minute scorcher from the edge for Dhangadhi sailed above the bar.
Nigerian Afeez finally broke the deadlock in the 72nd for Dhangadhi. The forward headed a ball deflected at Bista inside the crowded box after Ashok Khawas fired at the post collecting the ball parried by goalie Karki.
Substitute Ranjan Bista, who came as 76th minute replacement of Bimal Rana, restored parity two minutes after his entry as he fired a quick semi-volley collecting a through pass from Kamal Shrestha. Goalie Limbu was at fault for the goal as he did not act to stop the ball when it sailed close past him and hit the net.
In the 82nd Dhangadhi came close to scoring when Afeez headed inches wide from the area in Bishal Rai cross. They also wasted a couple of scoring chances in the stoppage time as substitute Soujan Rai's header sailed above the bar in the second minute of additional three minutes. Dhangadhi thought that they would walk away with full three points in the fading moments when Afeez's quick tapping from the crowded area was cleared by Arik Bista from the goalline.
Dhangadhi coach Yugal Kishor Rai blamed the congested fixture for the under-par performance of his side. "The recovery time between the two matches is very short, not only for us but also for other teams," said Rai. "That has resulted in injury, fatigue and underperformance. Lalitpur were better than us today."
Lalitpur City defender Niraj Basnet was named emerging player of the match while Dhangadhi defender Dinesh Rajbanshi was named super player. Basnet won a purse of Rs10,000 and Rajbanshi Rs25,000.
Kathmandu Rayzrs will take on Pokhara Thunders on Friday.