Meghalaya-based outfit Shillong Lajong defeated Aizawl FC 0-1 in the season's first North Eastern derby of I-League at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Monday afternoon. Redeem Tlang registered the winning goal for the Meghalaya-based team in the 60th minute.
The hosts lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Lalbiak Thanga replacing the injured David Lalrinmuana in the midfield. As for the visitors, Bobby Nongbet made two changes from the side which shared spoils with Mohun Bagan in their last fixture as Alen Deory was demoted to the bench with Kynsailang Khongsit replacing him in the starting XI. Also, Samuel Lalmuanpuia was ruled out due to injury which meant Shaiborlang Kharpan secured his berth in the attack.
The home side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and controlled proceedings from the start. In the 9th minute, Lalmuankima beautifully set up the ball for Yugo Kobayashi but the Japanese striker’s shot lacked power and the chance went begging. Three minutes later, Lalram Hmunmawia, from inside the box, released a left-footed long-ranger which flew over the bar.
Around the half-hour mark, the visitors bounced back well as forward Al-Hagri had two chances to get his name on the score-sheet. First, in the 34th minute, the Yemeni glided past defenders Saighani and Kareem to release a shot straight at custodian Avilash. A few seconds later, Al-Hagri had his second chance to send Lajong ahead as he found space for himself inside the opposition’s box. From the right-side, he delivered a low shot but Avilash once again made no mistake in making a save.
In the final moments of the first-half, Aizawl’s Lalmuankima stood up for a free-kick and the long delivery was met by the lethal Dodoz; the latter’s header was however obstructed by an alert Phurba who dived to his left.
The two teams walked off the field goalless at half-time despite the hosts being in control of the game.
In the second-half, The Reds outclassed the home side. Striker Aiman Al-Hagri made his way into Aizawl’s box but his shot was blocked by the opposition’s defence. However, the ball reached Redeem Tlang on the rebound who swung it towards the right-side of goal, beyond the reach of custodian Avilash Paul.
Paulo Meneses’ side looked comfortable on the ball even after that but the failure to convert their chances haunted them on Monday afternoon.
In the 88th minute, striker Yugo Kobayashi released a thumping shot off his left-foot. However, the attempt hit the side-netting. Later, in added time, skipper Alfred Jaryan delivered a similar shot from distance but the effort flew over the target.
The lack of clinical finishing from the home side meant that they lost out to the young Lajong army who walked away with three points at the full-time whistle.