In the sixth match of the fourth Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament, hosts Meghalaya won their second consecutive match by beating Nagaland 4-0 at the JN Stadium, Shillong, on Wednesday. Meghalaya remain top of Group A, with Assam second, Arunachal Pradesh in third and Nagaland last.
Nagaland were the team who seemed the more threatening in the first 20 minutes, continually creating plays that almost brought about a goal.
In the fourth minute, Nagaland had an early chance after a good approach up the left flank. A cross into the box was pushed away by a diving goalkeeper Alwyn Patweth, but knocked into the path of Lipok Sashi, who attempted a shot on goal that went over the cross bar.
In the next minute, Meghalaya’s defenders were caught napping as Sakutemjen approached with the ball unguarded, but he kicked it tamely towards the goalie.
Meghalaya finally came alive in the 16th minute with two chances. A fine shot by Khymdeit was deflected for a corner by the diving keeper, Vizovor Liezietsu, and the resulting corner also almost resulted in a goal but for a reflex block by a defender standing at the goal mouth.
The home team started to lift the tempo after the half hour mark, constantly putting the opposition under pressure to the delight of the Meghalaya fans, who came out in good numbers to back their team.
The attacks finally paid off in the 38th minute through a good level of craft. Niwan O Gatphoh ran the ball up the right flank, dodged past a defender and carefully passed it to Milton Kharsati who tapped the ball in from right in front of the net.
In the very next minute Meghalaya doubled the score after Ronnie Nongbri chipped the ball forward for a waiting Donbok Khymdeit to go one-on-one with Liezietsu and the striker won through.
The scoreline remained 2-0 going into the break. Nagaland showed that they can play attacking football and they had to reply in the second half.
Nagaland made a costly error after the ball was taken off a defender by Gatphoh in the 54th minute. He passed the ball in to Milancy Khongstia in the box. His first attempt was blocked by the keeper, but he was there for the rebound and headed it in while diving over the custodian to make it 3-0.
Khymdeit received a yellow card for a handball and then was soon fouled by Bielie Rio deep inside the Nagaland half on the left side. Rio was also booked.
Nagaland made an interesting choice of substitution when Liezietsu was withdrawn and Mezhulhoukho came in his place to man the goal.
He couldn’t stop the hosts from scoring a fourth goal, however. A careless mistake by a Nagaland defender cost another goal in the 76th minute. The defender tried to clear the ball but miscued it and the ball was taken up the right flank by Meghalaya. A cross to Gatphoh saw him in clear air, but he waited just long enough to be surrounded by defender. Still, he got past them and a strong strike flew into the net past Mezhulhoukho.
Norasius Kharumnuid took a good strike a few minutes later on goal, but the Nagaland custodian was able to stop this one with a dive to his left.
It wasn’t as though Nagaland didn’t have their moments, especially in the first half, but some sloppy play let them down badly and helped Meghalaya come away with three points.