I-League: Shillong Lajong Prevail Over Aizawl FC in Northeast Derby
Naorem Mahesh Singh did the star turn for Shillong Lajong, helping the hosts prevail over Aizawl FC 2-1 in the season's first northeast derby of the I-League on Sunday.
Shillong: Naorem Mahesh Singh did the star turn for Shillong Lajong, helping the hosts prevail over Aizawl FC 2-1 in the season's first northeast derby of the I-League on Sunday.
At the near-packed JLN stadium, Mahesh scored two brilliant goals in either half to clinch full three points for his side.
Aizawl's Liberian striker Ansumanah Kromah got one back for the visitors but it was not enough.
The young Shillong Lajong side, not fielding any foreigners this season and playing as many as nine U-22 players in the starting XI, ensured that the fans had enough to rejoice.
Expectedly, given the fitness levels and young players in both sides, the game began on a high tempo and continued till the very end.
The first chance fell to the visitors as early as in the 5th minute, when Kromah intercepted a defensive blooper deep inside the Lajong half, but failed to capitalise on it.
From the resultant corner, the ball swooped down favourably for Aizawl defender Valpuia who was unmarked, but his header was off-target.
In the 15th minute, Aibanbha Dohling brought down Kromah just outside the box in a dangerous position and earned the game's first booking from referee Tanmoy Dhar.
Then the talented right winger Mahesh Singh, who had an excellent first half, turned the game on its head with a sensational strike in the 20th minute.
It was Novin Gurung who latched on to a long ball from the Lajong defense outside the Aizawl box and passed to Mahesh on the right flank.
Mahesh side-stepped one defender and cut in, before unleashing a scorching curler that beat Aizawl keeper Gurpreet all ends up.
Another left-footed long ranger by Mahesh, in the 27th minute, was collected comfortably by Gurpreet.
Even though Aizawl were beginning to ascertain more control over the game, the hosts went into the break with their lead secure.
After the break, Jaryan missed a sitter in the 50th minute -- a cross from the left wing found him unmarked in the middle of the top of the goalkeeper's area, but his volley missed the mark.
In the 51st minute, after an interchange of passes inside the Aizawl half, Lajong defender Rakesh Pradhan received a ball on the overlap on the left flank. His wonderful cross took out the Aizawl defense completely.
Mahesh was following everything including the ball and met it with perfect timing to lob it over Gurpreet in the Aizawl goal to double the lead.
Aizawl finally got one back after a 1-2 between Paul and Remsanga outside the Shillong box.
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