A brace from Aser Dipanda Dicka and one goal from Chinglensana Singh delighted the crowd of Lajong Faithfuls who had gathered to see their favourite side Shillong Lajong FC take down Mumbai FC 3-1 in a fifth round Hero I-League encounter at the JN Stadium here this evening.
This was the second consecutive home victory for Lajong, who started with an unchanged line-up from their 2-1 win last week over Minerva Punjab FC, and they now move to fifth position with six points. Mumbai drop down to sixth place.
The opposing sides took roughly a third of the match sizing each other up, but the Reds then burst into the lead after Dicka, with an assist from Isaac Vanmalsawma, put the hosts into the lead.
A foul committed by Mumbai midway in their own half allowed Isaac to deliver a stormer of a free-kick that was met by a Dicka header that zipped into the net in the 28th minute.
Mumbai had had a few look-ins earlier on, with Clyde Fernandes, Robson Santana and Hitesh Sharma the danger men, but they either scuffed their chances or found the Lajong defence too good.
From the moment the goal was scored it was the home team that was in the ascendant with the cheers of more than 5,400 Faithfuls behind them.
A Pritam Kumar Singh shot from the left landed on top of the Mumbai net, while Redeem Tlang’s effort just went wide, all within a space of 10 minutes.
After Santana went wide with a header in the 42nd minute, Lajong quickly broke away and a long ball found Hero of the Match Dicka free on the left, completely unmarked. Mumbai goalkeeper and captain Laxmikant Kattimani advanced forward to try and cut off the Cameroonian, but the No. 10 was perfectly in control and eased the ball past the onrushing custodian.
That wasn’t it for the Reds in the first session, however, as Isaac then struck the crossbar with a volleyed shot, while Kattimani saved what could have been Dicka’s hat-trick goal in stoppage time.
Mumbai coach Santosh Kashyap made an attacking substitution at the start of the second half, bringing on forward Karan Sawhney in place of midfielder Hitesh Sharma and that decision did the trick around 10 minutes from kick-off when the substitute managed to get the toe end of his boot onto the ball and into the net past Reds’ goalie Vishal Kaith.
Unbowed, Lajong did not let that inconvenience take the wind out of their sails, with the youngsters continuing to press forward.
Their persistence paid off with 20 minutes left on the clock after Dicka had a shot put out for a corner by the goalkeeper. The resulting corner was headed down for Chinglensana, who spun around neatly and smashed the ball past the Mumbai defenders and goalkeeper.
The game was finally put to bed in the 86th minute when referee R Venkatesh red-carded Kattimani for an infraction outside the box and Lajong held off the few desperate attempts that were made by Mumbai to secure their second victory.
Chennai City FC are now in line to visit Shillong with the next fixture scheduled for Tuesday at 4:30pm at the JN Stadium.