Shillong Lajong FC emerged victorious in a five goal thriller against Rangdajied United FC in an entertaining match of the U-19 I-League North East Zone Qualifiers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong on Wednesday afternoon.
As soon as the match kicked off, the Lajong Juniors dominated the possession across the field. The Rangdajied boys on the other hand, who already tasted defeat in the previous fixture between the two sides, were eager to break possession and counter attack the Reds. After creating a few good chances, the Reds were rewarded with a goal, when Zodingliana drove the ball into the net from the left in the 34th minute which was assisted by Rupert Nongrum. Randajied pushed hard for the equaliser before the break but were unsuccessful and hence both teams went into the break with only one goal on the score card in favour of Lajong.
Shillong Lajong coach Alison replaced defender Jimmy with forward Shanbor at the start of the second half. This change seemed to help the Reds start the second half more brightly as they looked a more confident side with some beautiful football in the opponents half. But Rangdajied were fortunate to level the score as they were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute and Gamelieh Kharlyngdoh made no mistake in scoring the equaliser for his team.
Lajong however continued to threaten their opponents and almost restored the lead in the 61st minute, when Zoding’s long range shot hit the crossbar. Two minutes later, captain Redeem Tlang also took his shot on goal from the left but was unlucky to hit the post.
The young Rangdajied side pressed forward on several occasions but were not able to convert their shots on goal. Lajong were looking more likely to score the next goal but a lapse in defence provided the opportunity for Mebanshan Suting to slot the ball past the keeper in the 72nd minute. Rangdajied players were ecstatic to take the lead with less than twenty minutes left to play, but the “never-say-die spirit” of the “Boys in Red” was evident as they pushed forward continuously and added a lot of pressure on Rangdajied’s defence.
The Reds decided to bring in Ksankupar in place of Nabin and the change helped them create more chances in front of goal with greater possession of the ball. The substitution also proved to be crucially effective as Ksankupar made a good run from the left to receive a beautifully lobbed pass from Zoding and beat the keeper, giving Lajong a well deserved equaliser in the 85th minute.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw but the relentless attack from Lajong gave them the opportunity to score the winning goal in the 89th minute when two shots on goal was defended well by the Blues custodian, but the second shot on goal fell perfectly onto the feet of Redeem who made no mistake in converting this glorious chance to seal the victory for his team.
With three wins from three games, Lajong sit at the top of the table with nine points while Rangdajied stay in third place with only one point earned. The Reds will play their next match against Guwahati outfit Green Valley FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the March 4 at 13.00 IST.