NEROCA FC kickstarted their home campaign with a thrilling victory over Chennai City FC in what is to be dubbed as a perfect team effort. Lalit Thapa’s heroics under the woodwork, Varney Kallon’s opener in the 26th minute and Ngangom Ronald Singh’s 90th-minute winner perfectly summed up the Manipuri outfit’s performance today to outsmart Chennai City FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, to add another feather to the Northeastern state’s hat.
Although the visitors pulled one back in the second half, they could not deter the hosts from bagging all three points towards the end when Ronald Singh tapped it home to send the 27 thousand strong crowd into a delirium.
In the first I-League home match of the Gift Raikhan-coached team, both the team started with high pace. Chennai City FC gave their best amidst the huge crowds cheering for the home team. However, NEROCA FC’s players played skillfully against their opponent.
The visitors got a realistic chance to go one step up in the 17th minute when they were awarded a penalty. But, NEROCA FC’s goalkeeper Lalit Thapa jumped to his right to thwart Murilo Almeida’s effort after NEROCA lanky defender Govin pulled his jersey.
NEROCA FC started to execute mostly from the left flank of the field with striker Subash Singh keeping the Chennai City FC defenders on their toes throughout.
In the 26th minute, NEROCA FC netted its first goal by Varney Kallon and led his team to a slim 1-0 lead until the half-time.
In the second half, Chennai City FC’s Charles Anandraj was replaced by Mashoor Shereef and made a strong attack on NEROCA FC. Chennai City FC changed the gear and started pushing harder for the elusive equaliser with the team captain Soosai Raj who took a major role in the midfield.
Jean Micheal Joachim, the deadly Chennai City FC striker once again found the target for the southern side, having cancelled the host’s lead in the 64th minute.
Towards the end when the Chennai City FC dugout started eyeing to a hard-fought draw, super-sub Ronald Singh stole the show scoring the winner in added time.
Following the win, NEROCA FC rise into fourth spot with six points from three matches while Chennai City FC remain in ninth position with a solitary point collected from Kozhikode.
NEROCA FC will travel to Kolkata next to take on Mohun Bagan on December 19, and Chennai City FC will travel to Goa to challenge Churchill Brothers SC on the same day.