Kolkata: Pailan Arrows struck through substitute Tirthankar Sarkar to hold United Sikkim FC 1-1 in their return leg I-League fixture at Kalyani on Monday. Anwar Ali gave United Sikkim a 74th minute lead but Sarkar found the equaliser in the 87th minute with a spectacular effort to earn one point for the local challengers.
The AIFF developmental outfit thus extended their unbeaten run to three matches to be on 19 points from 17 games while United Sikkim had 12 from 18 outings. The first half turned to be a listless affair as both the sides preferred to hold back their offensive intent. There were hardly any notable shot, header or an attempt that could spell danger in the either ends of the ground.
Arrows played a waiting game apparently realising the desperation of the opponents hovering in the relegation zone. Second half started more purposefully as Arrows took the initiative to attack and pushed for a break.
The Arrows attacking-line - with Holicharan Narzary, Alwyn George and Seiminlen Doungel (who is on loan from East Bengal) -- set up a wave of attacks but found them running into dead ends for want of proper finishing. Anwar Ali broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with a delectable scissor kick to send home a half-hearted clearance from the Arrows defender Souvik Ghosh.
The late concession queered the pitch for Arrows, who did not have the time in allowance. Coach Arthur Papas made a couple of quick changes to refresh Arrows' attack. The ploy worked well as Sarkar, who replaced Rajinder Kumar in the midfield in the 81st minute, found the equaliser in the 87th minute off a low cross from the right.