Churchill Brothers beat Shillong Lajong by 2-0 in today’s I-League encounter held at the Tilak Maidan in Goa.
It was Lajong goalkeeper Phurba’s mistake from a clearance by Monday and Britto’s left-footed belter at the later stage of the game which gave the hosts the two goals in the game.
Going into the game Lajong made four changes in the starting lineup, Kynsailang Khongsit and Juho Oh were brought in the defence replacing Novin Gurung and Daniel Odafin making it a five men defence. On the other hand, Lalrohlua replaced Alen Deory and Swedish striker Saihou Jagne was handed his debut in place of Aiman.
The Reds did not have the best of the start as it was the hosts who were creating havoc in their attacking half and the pressure did pay off soon. It was in the 8th minute when Churchill defender Monday’s clearance was misjudged by Lajong keeper Phurba and spilt the ball into the back of the net.
Churchill were on an attacking spree as they were creating chances after chances inside the box only to be cleared away by the Reds defence. Lajong’s first chance of the half came in the 26th minute, Samuel swung in perfectly from a free kick but Juho failed to connect his head at the near post. Samuel again had a chance from a free kick but his shot hit the Churchill wall.
Goalkeeper Phurba was again called into action when he had to pull off a brilliant save off a long-range effort to keep the hosts’ lead to one. In the later stage of the half, Samuel and debutant Saihou had a few chances to equalise but did not manage to capitalise.
The Reds started the second half on a positive note and were in search of the equaliser straight from the kickoff. Jagne had a chance inside the box from a cross from the left but his first touch let him down and he did not manage to pull off the shot. Moments later he again failed to connect his head at the far post off a freekick. Hardycliff then had a chance to shoot from close range but he too failed to find the target.
Lajong’s first real chance of the half came when Jagne dribbled past a defender inside the box and shoot one with real venom but the ball came off the post to deny the striker a debut goal. Aiman was then introduced to bring life in Lajong’s attack and the forward soon had his chance when Koffi put one in perfectly for him to shoot but his shot went way over the bar.
Midfielder Lalrohlua too had his go at goal off a screamer from 30 yards out only to see the woodwork deny him. In the 77th minute, Churchill midfielder Britto decided to take matter on his own and cut in from the right before letting go an inch-perfect left-footed strike which went past Phurba and doubled the hosts lead.
Having doubled their lead the hosts then sat back defending which denied the Reds to create chances up front despite enjoying the most of the possession in the opposition half.
The referee decided to add on four extra minutes at the end of regulation half and Lajong had a chance to bring the deficit to one goal. Redeem Tlang’s freekick was swirling and the Churchill keeper somehow managed to palm it over the bar to keep his goal intact and give the hosts a 2-0 win.
Shillong Lajong will now travel to Imphal to take on Neroca FC on January 24th. The match kicks off at 2 PM at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal.