Singto and company fell prey to visitors DSK Shivajians as goals from Sanju Pradhan (16') and Shane McFaul (44') clinched the three points for Dave Rogers' army.
Thangboi Singto named the same team for the fifth consecutive match, consisting of eight U22 players, whereas the Pune-based outfit made two changes to the team that dropped points against defending champions Bengaluru FC. Sasa Kolunija was sidelined due to injury and Sumeet Passi was dropped. Rookie Kima replaced Kolunija and Sanju Pradhan was named in place of the 21-year-old Passi.
The tie started with visitors Shivajians seeing more of the ball in the early stages. The Pune side’s defender Jerry Lalrinzuala had a shoddy start to the game. The 18-year-old kept losing the ball in the middle of the park, thereby gifting chances to the home side.
However, in the 16th minute, Dave Rogers’ squad opened their goal tally. It was Sanju Pradhan who gave the visitors an early lead in Shillong. The Sikkim-born player slotted home confidently from close range, pouncing on a half clearance by Samuel Shadap.
The away team were starting to dominate the match as Lajong struggled to finish whatever chances they created. But Aser Dipanda levelled the scores for the Meghalaya outfit soon after. Isaac delivered a dangerous ball into the box, which was hit on the volley by skipper Dorjee whose disappointing shot luckily found his team mate Dicka. The Cameroonian slotted it home from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
The Shivajians did not go on the backfoot, to their credit, and looked to regain their lead. And within just 11 minutes from Dipanda’s strike, the Maharashtra outfit scored their second goal. The Loni-based franchise capitalised from a corner as Lajong ‘keeper Vishal Kaith made a mess of the delivery inside the box. Taking advantage of Vishal’s error, Irishman Shane McFaul slotted the ball into the net.
The two teams entered the tunnel at the half time whistle with the visitors leading by two goals to one.
In the latter half of the fixture, The Shivajians attacked with long rangers whereas the home side looked clueless while in possession of the ball.
In the 52nd minute, Pritam tried finding Redeem Tlang with a long ball down the left flank. The local lad attempted to keep the ball in play and make something of the chance but Nirmal Chettri was too strong for him.
Lajong had the chance to net the equalizer in the 71st minute when Konsham went close. The 20-year-old got a flick on Isaac's delivery but was very unlucky to see his effort rattle off the crossbar.
The Reds struggled in their efforts to get an equalsier while The Shivajians looked composed in their gameplay and executed their plans perfectly.
In the end, it was the home side who was on the losing end as strikes from Pradhan and McFaul sealed an important victory for The Shivajians.