Shillong Lajong FC went down by a solitary goal to Pune FC in their 19th Hero I-League match of the season through a first half headed set piece goal through Zohmingliana Ralte.
The first half began with both sides pushing each other in a fast tempo first opening minutes. Lajong conceded a corner in the 5th minute and little did they know that it would be the most decisive moment in the match. The corner lashed into the near post and deflected off it into Zohmingliana Ralte’s head who could not miss the target from just a yard away.
The home side were shell shocked at the manner of how the goal was conceded but did not put their head down at all as they continued to fight back in search of the equaliser. Pune were kept quiet throughout the first half with the set piece goal being their only chance of the half.
Lajong controlled possession and created innumerable chances with the closest coming in the 31st minute. Durga Boro who was brought on in place of the injured Zodingliana brought along his energy to run past the Pune defence down the right flank but only to see his low cross fired over the crossbar by Cornell Glen. The Trinidad and Tobago striker could not finish another brilliant chance in the 34th minute when Milan Singh’s free kick found Glen alone in the box but the striker slipped while taking his shot and could not find the back of the net.
Pune who were outplayed in all departments were lucky to go into the break with the scores still at 0-1 in their favour and Thangboi Singto would have been encouraged by the first half display from his team.
The home side began the second half with all guns blazing as they try and equalise early on after the replay. Lajong won a corner in the 59th minute and as the corner led to a few fumbles, the ball fell to Lajong’s Khelemba Meitei who fired it first time but the ball just fizz across the far post.
Approaching the hour mark, Pune FC were happy to just clear the ball from their penalty area and put all men behind the ball. Lajong kept pushing the visiting side on the backfoot and were unlucky to not go ahead in the 62nd minute. Cornell Glen while running riot down the left hand side put it in for Seimenlen Doungel who fired his shot right at the crossbar from close range.
Lajong who were constantly pushing against the Pune backline could not find a way through as Pune kept clearing attack after attack. The visiting side’s stubborn defense paid dividends as The Reds simply could not force their way into match any further as the final whistle blew much to Pune FC’s delight.
The grinding victory for Pune pushes them to 5th position in the table with 29 points from 19 games and Shillong Lajong now have it all to play for in their final match against East Bengal on the 30th of May at 7pm as they slip to 9th position with 20 points from 19 matches . The Reds are now just a point shy of relegation and will have to win their next match to secure top flight football next season.