The hosts’ midfield duo put up a commendable effort against Shillong Lajong on Friday afternoon.

In front of a strong attendance of 22,324 in the I-League, NEROCA FC brushed past a much inexperienced Shillong Lajong side in a 3-2 win. The Northeastern Derby drew a large number of spectators despite it being an odd time on a weekday and it was worth it for the home fans as they got the result they wanted.

Let’s have a look at the talking points from the game:

5. Are Shillong Lajong a better development side than Indian Arrows?

Alison Kharsyntiew once again fielded a young Lajong side against NEROCA and it brought an expected loss for his side, despite a late resurgence. Having scored 13 goals in the league till now, Lajong have shown a glimpse of the damage their attackers can cause to their opponents.

However, their defensive performance speaks in contrast to that of the attack. The Reds have conceded 20 more goals than their young counterparts in the league, Indian Arrows.

The Arrows have been pretty solid defensively, with the likes of Anwar Ali and Amarjit Singh Kiyam shining. But, what is holding the AIFF development side far down in the table is their goalscoring drought, having scored just three.

Yet, Lajong might have an upper hand over the Arrows despite their position in the table, considering the way they performed against NEROCA. Their devastating attack can hand them a huge advantage over their competitors in the coming games.

4. Can NEROCA rely on Yusa-Aryn partnership against big teams?

Since the beginning of the game, Katsumi Yusa and Aryn Williams together controlled the game from the middle of the park. The former played more of an attacking role and with his brilliant technique, he created some great chances for Felix Odili Chidi and Subash Singh. It was with his own hard work that the Japanese midfielder earned a penalty inside the first ten minutes of the game and gave an early lead to his side, with a calm strike from the spot. He then went on to create another one for Singh in the 21st minute.

As for Williams, the Australian played more of a holding role and provided some outstanding long balls to the wingers. The 25-year-old has been in a superb form for the Orange Brigade and despite being a natural centre-back, he has nailed his midfield duties perfectly.

3. Will defensive reinforcements improve Lajong’s position?

Having conceded 33 goals may definitely have affected the confidence levels of the Reds which was pretty evident. Had it not been for Buam’s late strike which instilled a little spirit into his side, Lajong may have lost the game by an even greater margin.

The youngsters certainly require an influential player at the back who can provide them with the confidence to concentrate on their attacking masterplan. Aiban Dohling was clearly struggling to handle the sizzling NEROCA attack, as most of the times his full-backs were caught out of position during the defensive phases of play. Had there been a solid figure at the back, the scoreline may most probably have depicted a different picture at the end.


2. Does Samuel Lalmuanpuia deserve to be at a bigger club?

20-year-old Samuel Lalmuanpuia was a joy to watch in an exciting Lajong attack. It was a surprise that he wasn’t picked in the starting lineup for the game by Alison. With his swift movement with the ball, the Mizoram lad caused a lot of problems for the defenders from the right wing.

Moreover, his ability to play on both the wings as well as in the central attacking position makes him a versatile attacker at such a young age. It won’t be a surprise if the Lajong starlet is picked up by a big club in the coming years.

1. Why NEROCA’s overconfidence almost cost them three points

Although, leading by two goals inside the first half an hour, it looked as if the game was slipping from NEROCA’s hands as the clock ticked. The midfielders in particular, cooled down after a making a good start.

It was an alarming situation for the Orange Brigade when Buam scored the second goal for Lajong in the 84th minute. Till then, Manuel Fraile’s side were looking confident. However, as Lajong started putting some pressure on them followimg the goal, the hosts were pretty disorganised and were lucky to not concede another one.

For the final few minutes of the game, NEROCA were forced to defend with all 11 players inside their own half, trying to fend off the solid pressure of their opponents. Fraile’s side should take this as a lesson to remember for the upcoming games against the big teams, as not every time can they ride their luck.