SHILLONG, Jan 14: Shillong Lajong FC were handed the first defeat of the year in the I-league as current leaders Minerva Punjab FC defeated the home side 0-1 to take home all the three points. The match was held at the JN Stadium here on Sunday afternoon.
Ghanaian Willaim Okopu scored the only goal of the game in the second half to give Minerva the win.
The Reds made one change in their starting lineup as central defender Laurence Doe was declared fit for the match and replaced young Kynsailang Khongsit. Lajong were on the attack right from the kickoff and managed to win a corner at the very first minute. As the Minerva defence cleared the corner it was Aiman who found himself one on one with the Minerva keeper and had a go at goal only to get it saved by the keeper.
The hosts were on the attack in the initial stage of the game and were creating chances after chances with set pieces, but none turned out fruitful for the hosts.
Lajong had their next best chance of the game in the 19th minute when Alen Deory shot one from just outside the box only to see his deflected shot punched away by the keeper which fell perfectly for Aiman, but the forward shot it straight to the hands of the keeper.
It was then Minerva’s turn to attack but the Lajong defence led by Laurence was at their best to deny the visitors from having a clear go at the goal. The first half mostly saw the Reds on the attack but the half ended goalless without any real threat on either goal.
The second half started on a different note altogether as it was the visitors who saw most of the ball in the midfield. The hosts seem to miss the service of Aiman who was subbed off in the first half due to an injury. Minerva’s Chencho and William were creating chances after chances and eventually, their efforts paid off in the 57th minute.
Chencho with his trickery got past Novin and crossed one from the left which was met perfectly by William to give Minerva the goal they were looking for. Lajong then went all out on attack looking for an equaliser and soon had their chance. Samuel Lalmuanpuia dribbled past few Minerva defenders down the right flank and crossed one to the near post which was met perfectly by incoming Koffi but the Minerva keeper was again there to deny the hosts.
The Reds were trying their level best to penetrate the Minerva defence to have a shot on goal, but the visitors kept their cool to keep the lead intact. Hardyclifff Nongbri, Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Rakesh Pradhan even tried from the distance to test the Minerva keeper, but their shots were just not on target.
The referee added on 6 extra minutes at the end of regulation time which saw Lajong mostly on the final third in search of an equalising goal. The last action of the match saw Lajong captain Samuel swing one in from the left corner only to be cleared away by the Minerva defence as the visitors ended up with three points with a 0-1 victory.
Shillong Lajong will now travel to Goa to take on Churchill Brothers FC on January 19.