Shillong Lajong FC made history on Sunday when they recorded their first string of four consecutive Hero I-League victories in a single season by defeating Churchill Brothers 1-0 at the JN Stadium.
Backed by the largest turnout of Lajong Faithfuls this season so far, the Reds scored the lone goal through super striker Aser Dipanda Dicka, who put the hosts in front in the 51st minute for his sixth goal of the season.
A strong visiting squad required Lajong to pull out their best defensive performance of the year and it was no easier for the home team to score.
Rupert Nongrum, Isaac Vanmalsawma, captain Nim Dorjee Tamang and Samuel Shadap were involved in the thick of the action, but it was Vishal Kaith who was adjudged the Hero of the Match after pulling off two stunning saves in the second half that made sure that the result ended in Lajong’s favour.
After a few early look-ins for the crowd favourites, Churchill had one of their best opportunities of the first half when their Trinidad and Tobago forward Anthony Wolfe squirted the ball just over the crossbar. The visitors had a couple of other chances with Vishal collecting a long drive from Richard Costa in the 21st minute and Nim Dorjee putting the ball out after a dangerous move forward by the Goans soon after.
The pendulum swung back towards the Reds late in the first half, but despite the stellar attempts from the home side, which has started with the same exact XI for the last four games now, they were unable to grab the lead.
Soon after the restart, Vishal was called to make his first super save, diving to his right to keep out an attempt by Churchill’s Ansumana Kromah. Next up for the Reds’ custodian was a scorcher of a shot by Adil Ahmed Khan from very close range in the 67th minute, which required Vishal’s sharp reflexes to keep out.
In between Vishal’s heroics, however, came the goal from Dicka. Lajong pressed forward in the 51st minute and an attempt on goal was fumbled by the Goan club’s goalie Priyant Kumar Singh and he failed to collect it on a second attempt, allowing Dicka, who never let up on the pressure, to steal the ball away and slot it perfectly between two defenders to shift the scoreline.
Just three minutes later the Cameroonian had another chance when the ball was delivered to him in the box, but his sliding attempt to reach it pushed the ball wide of the upright.
The striker wasn’t done yet, with a long-range shot blocked by Priyant on the hour mark, with the rebound almost falling into perfect place for Rupert, though he couldn’t reach the ball in the end.
Despite continued attempts from both clubs, neither of which saw a reduction in their intensity over the course of the 90 minutes, no further goals were scored and Lajong had to be happy with their fourth win and they now have 12 points.
The Reds will next face DSK Shivajians at home on Saturday, February 11 at 4:30PM.