Redeem Tlang converted the best chance of the game with a low, calm finish to give Lajong the 3 crucial points.
Aizawl‘s unbeaten run in the league came to an end as they lost 0-1 to Northeast counterpart Shillong Lajong in the first Northeast Derby of the season. Aizawl managed to garner 25 points from the possible 27 points at home last season but the new season doesn’t look to provide a similar start to the I-League champions.
In a hard-fought encounter in Aizawl, Lajong’s Khasi winger Redeem Tlang scored the only goal in the 60 minute of the game to which Aizawl couldn’t find a reply as Lajong secured their third win of the season. The win gives Shillong Lajong FC the much needed three points and with this win, they move to the second position in the league table equal on points with leaders Minerva Punjab FC but have played one game more than the league leaders.
The home side made only one change to the team that faced Churchill Brother as Lalbiak Thanga filled the gap left by injured David Rinmuana. Lajong’s Coach Nongbet made two change, captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Alen Deory were replaced in the starting XI by Shaibor Karpan and Kynsailang Khongsit respectively.
Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, also known as the fortress for Aizawl FC, saw the diminutive yet lively winger H.Lalmuankima steal the ball at the halfway line and sent a delightful pass to Kobayashi only for the Japanese to waste his golden chance. Kobayashi was alone in the box with no pressure from the Lajong boys, but still couldn’t find the back of the net.
The match was not played at the tempo the fans would have expected, both teams found it hard to carve out goalscoring chances. Just after the half-hour mark, Yemenese midfielder Al-Hagri danced past Aizawl’s Saighani and Kareem but his weak shot was collected easily by goalkeeper Avilash Paul, Al Hagri was given another gem of a chance but again his poor finishing let him down.
After an array of chances in the first 45 minutes, the score stood at 0-0 at the end of the first half.
Both teams started the second half brightly but it was the away team who scored the first goal of the match. Al Hagri’s shot inside the box was blocked by the Aizawl’s boys but the ball fell to Khasi winger Redeem Tlang, who calmly curled the ball towards the far side of the net and scored his second league goal of the season. Tlang again got a chance but the winger’s effort was heroically palmed away by the Aizawl FC goalkeeper.
Menezes introduced Romanian attacker Andrei Ionescu at 67 minutes but the substitution was in vain as Andrei had little effect on the game. H.Lalmuankima penalty appeal was not given by referee Om Prakash Thakur and a few moments later Kobayshi’s shot flew just over the crossbar.
Aizawl now in 6th place has played 3 games and has managed 4 points along the way. Aizawl will welcome high-flying and league leader Minerva Punjab FC in their last home game of the year on 27 December. Lajong will play their second Northeast Derby against I-League debutant Manipuri club NEROCA FC on 23 December 2017.