AIZAWL: The second northeast derby of the Hero I-League between Aizawl FC and Neroca FC ended in a goalless draw here on Wednesday.
Both teams had their chances in a game in which hosts Aizawl had a slightly better of exchanges, but a goal eluded them throughout the 90 minutes.
Both Aizawl and Neroca have two points from three games and remain on the bottom rungs of the standings.
The second half saw end-to-end football and was clearly more entertaining but both Gurpreet in the Aizawl goal and the Neroca custodian Maouro Boerchio managed to return their first clean sheets of the campaign.
Both the coaches, Gift Raikhan of Aizawl and Spaniard Manuel Fraile of Neroca, go away from the game with their worries around their strikers not converting chances.
Gift, coaching for the first time against his previous side, chose to field an unchanged eleven from the previous game against Mohun Bagan. Fraile effected four changes into the eleven which started the last game against Gokulam Kerala.
Neroca were the more circumspect to begin with, and Aizawl pressed hard for a goal early. They earned as many as six corners in the first 30 minutes of the game but could not break through.
Nigerian defender Kareem Nurain of Aizawl had two close shaves through two free kicks. In the 23rd minute, Aizawl’s third corner of the game saw Neroca defender Sebastian make a hash of his attempted clearance and the ball fell to Alfred Jaryan whose powerful volley from just outside the keeper’s area was well saved by Boerchio.
Neroca then sprung to life at the beginning of the second half and Malem missed a couple of opportunities within the first four minutes. A couple of more chances were squandered by Felix and Australian Aryn Williams for the visitors before Jerry in the 54th minute, found himself free inside the box after a wonderful 1-2, but his shot went straight into Gurpreet and he parried the ball out for a corner.
Aizawl came back into the game with the introduction of Ivorian Zikahi Dodoz in place of Lalrinfela. However, the home team’s Liberian striker Ansumanah Kromah was guilty of many missed opportunities, including being caught off-side as many as four times.
Raikhan then brought on David Lalrinmuana with 10 minutes to go in an attempt to break the deadlock, but it did not make any difference.