I-League 2018-19: Defending champions Minerva Punjab suffer setback against Shillong Lajong

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Mahesh Singh Scores at the 84th minute for Lajong

SHILLONG, Jan 25: Shillong Lajong defeated I-League defending champions, Minerva Punjab FC, 1-0 on Friday at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Chandigarh.

Lajong custodian Phurba Lachenpa was handed with his second consecutive Hero of the Match award for his spectacular effort in Friday’s game.

The youngsters of Shillong Lajong started the game brightly and got their first chance in the 7th minute after Lalrohlua’s pass was met by Samuel Lalmuanpuia but the skipper’s shot went just wide.

The defending champions and hosts of Friday’s game were also pushing forward in search of the goal. In the 13th minute, they came close to find the net but Toure’s header went wide. A minute later, Samuel Lalmuanpuia took the free kick for Lajong but it went straight to the Minerva Punjab goalkeeper, Nidhin Lal.

Shillong Lajong who were desperately looking for the win continued to press hard for the goal. In the 32nd minute, Kynsailang Khongsit from inside the box took a shot at goal. His first effort was blocked and the next took a deflection and went away for a corner.

Lajong players celebrate goal against Minerva Punjab

In the 46th minute, Minerva Punjab’s Lancine Toure could have given his side the lead in the game but the Ivorian player’s shot was not on target. After a few minutes, Prabhjot’s header was beautifully tipped over the crossbar by Lajong keeper, Phurba Lachenpa. He made another brilliant save in the 64th minute to deny Moinuddin’s shot from entering the back of the net.

Alison Kharsyntiew’s boys were counter attacking well upfront on several occasions and their efforts were finally paid off when Mahesh Singh who was inside the box scored in the 84th minute from close range after a rebound of Nidhin Lal fell on the striker. Just a few minutes later, Kitbok Pale could have doubled the lead after he was on a one on one situation but his shot was saved by the onrushing Nidin Lal.

Minerva tried all options to salvage a point but were unsuccessful. After this win, Shillong Lajong will return home to take on Churchill Brothers on 5th February at the JN Stadium Shillong.