Shillong Lajong FC saved arguably their best performance of the season for the last match as they triumphed over Kingfisher East Bengal by a mammoth score line of 5-1. The Reds of the North East brought back glory and honour, ruled the fortress and displayed a gutsy performance that all the Lajong Faithfuls would remember forever.
The goals came from Zodingliana Ralte, Seimenlen Doungel and Cornell Glen who completed his second hat trick of the season whereas East Bengal’s Cavin Lobo managed to grab his side their only goal of the match.
The home side went into the game with fears of relegation looming over their heads but approached the match with utter confidence and enthusiasm. The game was well contested in the first quarter of the game. Lajong created the breakthrough with beautiful build up play when Glen released the pacey Zodingliana Ralte with a dead weight through ball that found Zoding one on one with the keeper. The winger did not miss his chance and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to send the home side into the lead in the 21st minute.
After having demoted East Bengal to defending Lajong’s attacks for most of the first half the visitors however found a goal for themselves when East Bengal midfielder Cavin Lobo fired a low shot to beat Lajong keeper Kunzang Bhutia at the near post. The home side stunned at the manner the goal was conceded and both teams could not find a much deserved lead before the first half and went into the break all squared.
The second half began with Thangboi Singto’s men still upbeat from their dominating first half display as they left the East Bengal defense in tatters as early as in the 48th minute. Glen tried a shot from outside the box and was blocked well by the visiting side’s defence only for the rebound to fall in front of the Trinidad and Tobago who did not miss a low pile driver and restore the lead for The Reds.
After the home side got back the lead, Thangboi’s men knew a one goal lead was not enough and surged forward to try and score more but little did they know that they would run riot over their opponents. Thangboi Singto brought in Len for Uilliams after the Brazilian looked to have picked up a slight knock. Len took literally a minute before finding his name on the score sheet after the striker managed to squeeze through the full back and fired a left footed shot into the side netting in the 70th minute.
Cornell Glen who never seizes to influence matters for the home side found his second goal from a set piece corner. After the corner was cleared temporarily Lajong put in a swinging short cross for the Caribbean goal machine who surely did not miss his chance to put his side four up in the 75th minute. The East Bengal players would have surely wished the final whistle was blown at that moment but that was obviously not the case.
Lajong having not completed their riot yet were attacking again and again and forced East Bengal centre back Gurwinder Singh into a nasty scuffle with Lajong’s Seimenlen Doungle and was rightfully booked for the offence. The goal fest however did not end with Glen’s second goal as he found a third to complete his hat trick in the 81st minute.
Again after a corner was cleared it fell right into Lajong’s midfielder Milan Singh’s feet and the midfield maestro fired in a cross for Glen to flick the ball into the net with the back of his head and reaffirm his striker instinct once again in this match. Jubilant scenes followed after as Glen ran towards the corner flag with his shirt in his hands to celebrate his hat trick and more importantly Lajong’s safety in the I-League.
That was to be the last goal thankfully for the East Bengal who literally could not respond well enough to Lajong’s well orchestrated attacking prowess. The best performance of the season is what some might argue but this win ensures Shillong Lajong will be playing in the I-League again next season after a slight relegation scare towards the end of the season.
So with the resounding victory Shillong Lajong FC have finished this season’s I-League campaign in 9th position with 23 points from 20 games and Kingfisher East Bengal finished the season in 4th position with 29 points from all their 20 matches.