Felix Chidi (33') and Subhas Singh (82') were on target to guide NEROCA to a 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong on Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong. Phrangki Buam (49') scored the only goal for the hosts.
Shillong Lajong coach Alison Kharsyntiew made just one change to the starting XI which managed a 2-2 draw against Minerva Punjab. Rakesh Pradhan came in place of Allen Lyngdoh in the left-back position.
Manue Retamero, on the other hand, made four changes in the NEROCA XI which went down 2-1 against Chennai City last week. Mauro Boerchio, Tondomba Singh, Sushil Meitei and Ronald Singh made way for Lalit Thapa, Eduardo Ferreira, Saran Singh and Katsumi Yusa.
The very first move of the visitors could have resulted in the opening goal of the match. Subash Singh entered the box from the right side going past two players and chipped the ball towards goal. Unfortunately, it hit the inside of the far post and came back.
NEROCA were in control of the match right from the beginning and were maintaining the pressure in Lajong’s half.
Lajong got their first opportunity of the match around the 20th-minute mark when Lalawmpuia Hnamte forwarded a through ball for Phrangki Buam but his shot went above the crossbar. In the next minute, Aryn Williams saw his 25-yard free-kick hit the crossbar and go out.
Felix Chidi scored the opening goal of the match for NEROCA in the 33rd minute. Katsumi initially had failed to convert a chance and the ball went to Malemnganba Meitei on the right flank. Meitei’s cross was headed home by Chidi.
Retamero’s men headed to the dressing halftime with a much-needed lead in the crucial away fixture.
Phrangki Buam struck early in the second half to restore parity in the match with a brilliant finish. He received a through ball from Mahesh Singh, entered the box from the right side and found the back of the net.
The early goal increased the intensity of the match in the second half as both teams started attacking in numbers.
NEROCA should have taken the lead again around the 80th-minute mark when Malemnganba Meitei got the easiest of chances but failed to find the back of the net from a handshaking distance.
The Manipuri side finally restored their lead in the 82nd minute thanks to Subhas Singh’s strike. Felix Chidi flicked a long cross from the left inside the box and Subhas found the back of the net.
NEROCA climbed up to the fifth position on the league table after Sunday's win) with eight points from six matches.