Salgaocar FC beat Shillong Lajong FC by 2-1 in a Hero I-league encounter today at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. Goals from Daryl Duffy and Douhou Pierre for the home side stamped the victory against Lajong who managed only one goal through Cornell Glen.
The match saw the return of Daryl Duffy from injury for Salgaocar FC who was the top scorer of the league last season. He was immediately called into action the opening minutes of the game when his team mate, Douhou Pierre intercepted the ball and laid it off for the Scot whose shot just went wide. The home side who has been missing the Scottish striker seemed to be more confident going forward and most of the attack revolved around Daryl Duffy. Lajong meanwhile, were not fazed by the presence of the Salgaocar striker as they were very calm and developed a steady rhythm of attack. Lajong forward, Seiminlen Doungel was punished with a yellow card for a foul on the Salgaocar player in the 8th minute at a time when the home team had quite a few chances in front. Lajong had their first chance of the match in the 12th minute when Boithang’s cross found Uilliams who unfortunately, under pressure put the ball just wide of the net. Both teams were lacking composure in the back line and could have easily been punished if the strikers were on target. Then in the 18th minute, the home team scored a goal and broke the deadlock from open play, when Douhou found Duffy in the box and the striker made no mistake in putting the ball in the back of the net.
Few minutes later, Lajong striker, Cornell Glen took a shot and it hit the hand of Salgaocar defender Augustin Fernandes in front of the goal line. The defender was hence shown the red card as Lajong was awarded the penalty. Cornell Glen stepped up but Salgaocar keeper, Subrata Paul guessed the right direction and saved the penalty. With the pressure boiling, Cornell Glen redeemed himself in the 25th minute, as he danced past the defenders and took a curling shot into the back of the net. The pressure was mounting for the home team playing with 10 men but they however did not fall back as Douhou was threatening in front. Lajong were pressing forward on all sides trying to penetrate the defence but failed on few occasions. On the counter, Daryl Duffy could have given his side the lead again after he missed a one on one chance with Lajong keeper, Rehenesh TP. Lajong started to have more control of ball possession but could not find the lead. Daryl Duffy had to be replaced by Clifton Dias 5 minutes before the half time due to injury and the home fans were not too happy about it. Then in the 42nd minute, Douhou Pierre restored the lead for the Goans after using his physical strength and eventually rolling the ball across the line. The half time score remained 2-1 in favour of the Greens.
Salgaocar FC kicked off the second half and all the players staying focused as it was proving to be a great match at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. Lajong with an advantage of playing against 10 men, started taking control of ball possession and Boithang had the first shot of the second half but his shot went wide. Salgaocar were not ready to stay back and defend as Douhou and Bikash Jairu were looking dangerous throughout for the visiting team. Gilbert attempted a long range shot from 40 yards but his ambitious shot was saved by Rehenesh. Ten minutes into the second half, the home team were surprisingly having more chances in front as they were very close to scoring the third goal on a few occasions. Subrata Paul on the other hand was proving to be a tough obstacle for Lajong strikers as he kept denying chances. Fortunately for the neutrals, the game was not one sided as expected after the red card, since both sides were pressing in either half. Lajong did their best to keep the ball in their possession and hoping for chance while Salgaocar relied on the counter with the lone man Douhou Pierre up front, proving to be quite a handful for the Lajong defence. In front for Lajong, Uilliams, Penn, Boithang & Len were having a very difficult time trying to penetrate the defence. Hoping to turn the game around, Coach Thangboi decided to replace Uilliams with Durga Boro with not more than 15 minutes left of the match. He also replaced defender Jibon Singh with attacking player Zodingliana as a goal was very crucial for Lajong to return home with even a single point. Captain Aiborlang Khongjee attempted a shot from distance towards the top left corner but Subrata Paul made an acrobatic save denying the equaliser. Towards the end of the game, the hosts could have scored another goal as Bikash Jairu’s shot hit the post and was cleared away by Minchol Son. On the other end, Glen was denied the second goal after a brilliant save from close range by Subrata Paul who undoubtedly played a crucial role in ensuring a home victory.
The match ended 2-1 as Salgaocar emerged victorious. Lajong will be extremely unhappy not to get anything out of the match even with the advantage. Salgaocar will play their next match on 21st March at home against Bengaluru while Lajong will return to Goa on 28th March to play against Sporting Club De Goa.