The Japanese playmaker struck late on to condemn Nathan Hall's side to another demoralizing defeat.Shillong Lajong edged out United Sikkim 2-1 in an I-League round 19 match played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Saturday.
Lineker Machado gave the visitors the lead on 67 minutes but the home side sealed the win with goals from PC Lalhlimthara in the 81st minute and Taisuke Matsugane in the 91st minute.
This northeast derby was vital for both sides as they came in to the game at the wrong end of the table and in desperate need of points in the battle to escape the drop. While Lajong were looking to build on their point against Air India, the visitors were looking to put an end to their long winless streak.
The hosts hit the ground running and could have taken the lead in the 1st minute itself, but Sushil Kumar Singh’s effort rattled off the crossbar.
After that early opportunity went begging Lajong continued to dominate the game and displayed some great football, but both Singh and new strike partner Sho Kamimura were guilty of poor finishing, having failed to convert any of their numerous chances.
Following that early barrage, Nathan Hall’s side settled and gradually came into the game as the half progressed. The Men in Blue threatened on quite a few occasions, but the Lajong rearguard held firm, including shot-stopper Lalthummawia Ralte, who displayed some brilliant glovework. However, after a competitive first half both teams went into the break with no score.
In the second half both sides pushed to break the deadlock in the hope of grabbing all three points. The Sikkim boss’ half-time pep talk seemed to have done the trick and his side looked rejuvenated after the break
So it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead with arguably their best chance of the game in the 67th minute. Following some good build-up play, Ashish Chetri delivered a pinpoint cross and midfielder Lineker Machado was left with a simple tap in.
The home side were left shell-shocked as they found themselves behind after having dominated most of the game. However, it seemed the goal was just the wake-up call they needed as they started to press in search of an instant response.
Sikkim are stuck at the foot of the table and their precarious position meant nerves were always going to play a part, especially at the back. Particularly, given they had thrown away a lead in a similar position in last week’s game against Pailan Arrows.
Unfortunately for Sikkim history would repeat itself, as their stubborn resistance finally gave way in the face of sustained pressure from the hosts. Substitute PC Lalhlimthara and striker Kamimura combined well before the former found the back of the net on 81 minutes to restore parity.
Now with the game in its last 10 minutes, the home side had the impetus and looked favourites to snatch the winner. Their persistence finally paid off as Japanese midfielder Taisuke Matsugane found the winner in the first minute of second half injury time.
With the three points Lajong register their first win of 2013 and are in 10th spot with 19 points from as many games. On the other hand, their local rivals cannot seem to buy a win at the minute and are rooted to the bottom of the table on a meagre 12 points.
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