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ISL 2017-18: NorthEast United’s former players come back to haunt them

9:44 AM IST 11/02/18
Jamshedpur FC NorthEast United Wellington Priori
The Highlanders paid the price for not converting their chances in the first half only to concede through a moment of brilliance by Priori...

NorthEast United had an option in the summer – whether they wanted to retain Subrata Paul or T.P.Rehenesh. The John Abraham co-owned club went for the latter. On Saturday evening, Paul only showcased how wrong the North-Eastern outfit have been.

He made several saves in the first half, especially one from Lalrindika Ralte and then from Marcinho. It wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that the experienced goalkeeper kept Jamshedpur FC in the game as NorthEast dominated the first half.

When one looks at Rehenesh’s season, he has made several crucial errors with the most glaring being against Bengaluru FC at home.

Jerry Mawihmingthanga didn’t have the best of outings but came into his own in the second half. He provided the crucial through-ball to Farukh Choudhary, who should have bundled the effort from inside the box into the net but he slammed it straight at the goalkeeper.

Andre Bikey, another player who had plied his trade for NorthEast United, put in a commanding performance at the back. He made some important interceptions and his physical presence would help them dominate in the aerial duels.

Wellington Priori too was part of NorthEast United but wasn’t signed for the current season. The Brazilian produced a moment of magic with an acrobatic finish which left NorthEast United stunned. Since the arrival of Priori, Jamshedpur FC have been victorious in five of their six matches which only goes to highlight the impact he has made. He has been the best winter signing made by any club in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

Credit must also go to Steve Coppell as he substituted Ashim Biswas for Mehtab Hossain which allowed Priori to play further forward to support Izu Azuka. Priori’s ball control has been impeccable and he also has an ability to dribble past defenders with ease, an ability which is best utilised in attack.

The English coach certainly knows how to grind a win in the business end of the season. This victory over NorthEast United would further put pressure on the likes of FC Goa, Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC in the race for the fourth spot.

They have three matches to go with each being against a top side. However, Coppell’s side have wind in their sails and one might expect them to go over the line to make it into the play-offs at the expense of the others.