Shillong Lajong FC is back to winning ways after they defeated Neroca FC 0-2 while ending the host’s nine-game unbeaten run in the I-League. The match was held at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal. The hero of the match was awarded to Abdoulaye Koffi.
It was Saihou Jagne and Abdoulaye Koffi who scored early in the first half to bring home the valuable 3 points. Lajong now sits in the 4th position in the I-League table with 17 points from 12 games.
The Reds made two changes in their starting eleven as Nidhin Lal was handed his debut in place of first choice keeper Phurba Lachenpa and Daniel Odafin replacing Kynsailang Khongsit.
It was the hosts who started the first half looking for an early break and found one when forward Subhash Singh was clear on goal but the striker failed to open the scoring as Lajong keeper Nidhin Lal saved the shot easily. Moments later Samuel Lalmuampuia had a go on goal from outside the box only to see his shot punched away to safety by the keeper.
Thirteen minutes into the game, defender Rakesh Pradhan’s long aerial ball into the opposition box was controlled well by Saihou Jagne brushing past 2 defenders, before he chipped it over the keeper to give Lajong the vital opening goal. Five minutes later, it was time for the other fullback Novin Gurung’s chance for an assist. Novin’s delightful cross from the right was headed well by Abdoulaye Koffi and the ball went into the back of the net after hitting the post, the Reds were leading by two goals in the opening twenty minutes.
Hardy Cliff then had an opening and decided to shoot one from the distance but the keeper this time was on his mark and saved the shot with ease. Neroca then started to dominate possession but failed to create any real threat as the back five of Lajong were compact enough to let anything slip past them.
Lajong started the second half with an early chance, Hardy found himself with acres of space on the right flank before crossing one at the near post only to find Koffi’s header miss the target. Neroca on the other end then had three back to back corners, but the Reds defence was adamant to not allow anything go past them.
In the 50th minute, Neroca’s forward Nedo found the back of the net from a free kick but the referee rightly spotted the handball and disallowed the goal to keep Lajong’s two-goal lead intact. A few minutes later, Jagne had another chance up front but his long shot was saved well by the keeper. Lajong then had another chance on goal, a defensive error from Neroca led Koffi one on one with the keeper. The forward dribbled past the keeper easily and laid it off for Hardy to shoot but the ball was snatched off his feet before he could shoot.
Aiman, Alen Deory and Redeem were then subbed on to dominate the midfield as well as to not allow the Neroca players to create any real threat on goal as the following few minutes saw the hosts enjoy the most of the ball possession. Laurence Doe, Juho Oh and Kenstar were proving their worth by not letting the Neroca forwards penetrate the defence or giving any opening to trouble keeper Nidhin Lal.
In the final five minutes of regulation time, Lajong had two chances to increase the lead but Aiman and Alen’s shot didn’t have enough power to trouble the Neroca keeper. The six extra minutes added on by the referee were played out easily by the Reds before ending the match 0-2 in their favour.
Shillong Lajong FC will now travel to Kozhikode where they will face Gokulam Kerala FC on 28th January at 2 PM.