Minerva Punjab FC defeated Shillong Lajong FC by 3-2 in the Hero I-League encounter today held at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Chandigarh.
Guy Dano opened the account while Bali Gagandeep bagged a brace for the host, Minerva Punjab. The Reds came back fighting in the second half with Goals from Daniel Odafin and Laurence Doe.
Minerva Punjab took the early lead in the 5th minute when Guy Dano took a half-volley shot inside the box to beat the Lajong keeper, Phurba Lachenpa. Lajong were struggling in the first half to break forward and lacked combination play from Midfield to Forwards. Minerva dominated the first half and had the majority of possession. They created a few good opportunities in the opponents half but could not capitalise on them. Eventually, Bali Gagandeep doubled the lead for Minerva in the extra time of first half after an assist by Chencho.
Lajong replaced Lalrohlua with Alen Deory at the start of the second half and the change made an impact as the Reds were attacking well right from the start of the second half.
Koffi had a chance in the 47th minute but somehow squandered the opportunity. The persistence paid off for the Reds in the 60th minute when Daniel Odafin picked the ball outside the box after a defensive clearance and shot it past the defenders and the keeper, thereby scoring his first I-League goal.
In the 64th minute, Laurence Doe levelled the scoreline also scoring his first I-League goal in today’s goal with a header into the back of the net from Samuel Lalmuanpuia’s free kick. The visiting team found their fighting spirit and played much better in comparison to the first half. Minerva was stunned by those two goals but worked hard to regain their lead. In the 79th minute, Laurence Doe had to be replaced by Kynsai Khongsit after sustaining an injury and his absence was immediately felt as Minerva scored in the 80th minute through Bali Gagandeep.
Lajong, however, continued to fight back and could have equalised again in the 84th minute as Samuel’s free-kick was met by Aiban, but the latter’s header went over the bar.
Controversy emerged in the 90th minute when Samuel Lalmuanpuia dribbled past defenders and managed to lob it in front of goal, which was met by Koffi and headed into the net, but the referee denied the goal declaring Koffi had fouled the Goalkeeper. Lajong players and the bench were unhappy with the decision as it seemed that Koffi never touched or made any contact with the Minerva Goalkeeper and the goal should have stood. Koffi had another chance to equalise in the 95th minute but his header went just wide. Unlucky for the Reds, the matched ended 3-2 in favour of Minerva Punjab.
Lajong will now travel to Coimbatore for a crucial encounter against Chennai City FC on the 11th of February 2018.
(Shillong Lajong FC)