Shillong Lajong FC displayed a stunning performance at home to beat Aizawl FC 2-1 in the second leg encounter of the North East Derby at the JN Stadium in Shillong.
Having defeated Aizawl in the reverse fixture of the season, Lajong managed to complete the double with two second-half goals from Abdoulaye Koffi and SaihouJagne. Dodoz scored the visitors only goal in the 5th minute of the additional time.
Lajong started their penultimate game of the season with two changes from the last game. Novin Gurung came in to replace Alen Deory and Kynsailang Khongsit was brought in to replace Abdoulaye Koffi up front. In a must-win game for survival, the home side started the game with a positive intent.
Lajong had their first chance in the 8th minute with a free kick which failed to trouble the Aizawl defence. It was just after that when Lajong had to make the first change of the game as Hardycliff Nongbri had suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Redeem Tlang.
The Reds were mostly creating chances with set pieces but the sole presence of Saihou Jagne up front was not able to break the deadlock. The first half was evenly poised in the midfield as both the teams didn’t manage to create any real threat up front and the half ended goalless.
Ivory Coast forward Abdoulaye Koffi was brought in after the halftime in place of Kynsai Khongsit to pose a more aerial threat up front and the gamble paid off. The Aizawl defence was struggling to control both the Lajong forwards.
It was in the 58th minute when the hosts managed to find the back of the net; Saihou Jagne managed to find the head of Koffi with an inch-perfect cross from the right wing and the latter pounced on it to make it 1-0 for The Reds. Aizawl FC then went on an attacking spree as they created chances after chances down the flanks but Lajong defence led by Kenstar Kharsong and Juho Oh along with goalkeeper Nidhin Lal were at their best to keep the lead intact.
Rakesh Pradhan was making his signature runs down the left wing and was causing trouble for the Aizawl defence. At the 73rd minute, Swedish striker Saihou found himself with acres of space down the right wing and the player made a blistering run towards the goal before chipping it over the Aizawl keeper to double Lajong’s lead.
Aizawl FC with two goals down went all out on attack looking to come back in the game but it was again goalkeeper Nidhin Lal’s brilliance that kept them away from finding the back of the net.
At the end of regulation time, the referee added on 8 extra minutes and at the 5th minute of extra time, the visitors managed to get one back. Nidhin Lal managed to punch off a shot from an Aizawl corner but the rebound fell perfectly for Dodoz to give the visitors some hope in the dying minutes of the game.
In the remaining few minutes of the game, The Reds did manage to hold on to the ball before the referee blew his whistle for the full-time.
With this win, Shillong Lajonng has now managed to get 21 points from 17 matches and is currently 5th in the Hero I-league standings.
Shillong Lajong FC will now host East Bengal FC in their final game of the season on 4th March.