Shillong Lajong FC tasted victory for the first time away from home this I-League 2017/18 season as they defeated rivals Aizawl FC 1-0 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium today in Aizawl and conquered the first North East derby of the season which was also Aizawl’s first home defeat since the beginning of the 2016/17 season of the Hero I-League.
It was none other than midfielder Redeem Tlang who found the back of the net to give Lajong the all three-important away point in The Reds’ third away game on the trot.
Coach Bobby Nongbet made two changes in his starting line-up as Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Alen Deory made way for Shaiborlang Kharpan and Kynsailang Khongsit.
Lajong started the game with an attacking intent enjoying some quality possession but failed to put any real threat to Aizawl’s goal. It was then mostly the hosts who were on the attack, but the Lajong defence stood strong to deny Aizawl FC from posing any real threat.
The visitors had their first decent chance in the 14th minute when Yemen international Aiman was fouled and Hardycilff Nongbri put in a quality ball from the set-piece but it was cleared away by the Aizawl defence.
In the half an hour mark, youngster Kynsai Khongsit run past the Aizawl defender down the right wing and pulled one into the box but Redeem’s shot just went over the bar.
Moments later the match saw its first booking as Redeem was fouled by Lalrinzuala who received a yellow card, but the resulting freekick went in vain as it was shot straight into the wall of Aizawl defence.
Lajong then had two back to back brilliant chances to take the lead as on both occasions Aiman failed to capitalize. The forward saw both of his shots which lacked power; fall straight into Aizawl’s goalkeeper for two easy saves. Shaiborlang too had a chance to have a go from the distance but his shot went way above the goal post.
The referee added one extra minute into the half and its last action saw Lajong keeper Phurba Lachenpa pull off one brilliant save to keep the game goalless at the end of first half.
Lajong started their second half on the defensive side as it was the hosts who started the second half on an attacking note. Lajong had their first corner in the 5th minute of the half which saw defender Juho’s header go just above Aizawl’s goal.
Lajong finally found the back of the net to take the lead through midfielder Redeem Tlang. Shaiborlang won a header in the 60th minute which fell to Aiman inside the box but his shot was well blocked by Aizawl’s defence. The ball fell perfectly for Redeem on the wing who was clinical with his finish as he put it into the bottom corner without giving a chance to the keeper to prevent it from going in.
Aizawl then went on an attacking spree for a period of time but goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa, as well as, the defensive duo of Juho and Lawrence were on their toes to keep the lead secured.
The home team enjoyed majority of the possession but Lajong looked dangerous on the counter. Lajong found themselves with a few good chances in the counter attacks but they failed to double the lead. The inclusion of Alen Deory and Lalrohlua also gave the visitors fresh legs to look for chances up front.
Four extra minutes were added on by the referee at the end of the second half but Lajong’s defence held strong till the end and came out victorious for the first time away from home this season.
Shillong Lajong has collected 10 points from 5 matches played after 3 wins, one draw and one loss. They will host newcomers Neroca FC (Manipur) on Saturday 23rd December. The match kicks off at 14.00 IST at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong.
(Shillong Lajong FC)