DSK Shivajians FC continued their maiden appearance in the 128th Durand Cup after registering a facile 2-1 win over Gangtok Himalayan SC at the Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi on Wednesday..

A first-half double by LFC-DSK Academy graduate Rohit Kumar (5th and 44th minute) enabled DSK Shivajians to log full points. Gangtok Himalayan pulled one back via a penalty kick conversion by Jon Lepcha (78th minute). The result took DSK Shivajians points tally to six and earned the pole position in Group A.

Manager Dave Rogers began the game making four changes to his playing XI that played in the first match by bringing in goalkeeper Sayak Barai, Shane McFaul, Gagandeep Singh, and Biaklan Paite. The players omitted were Rakshit Dagar, Zohmingliana Ralte, Maan Singh and Juan Quero. The starting XI consisted of seven LFC-DSK Academy graduates.

The team also had a switch in skipper’s role with Kim Song Yong bearing the captain’s band.

DSK Shivajians began at a frenetic pace. A couple of all out attacking runs pushed Gangtok Himalayan onto back-foot. First, Paite fell short when Kim played him a through ball and then Gagandeep, running down the flank, earned the first corner-kick of the match, which led to the first strike.

Paite’s delivery in the box from the corner was fumbled by goalkeeper Sukhwinder Singh, which led to a lurking Rohit pounce onto the opportunity and slot home (1-0).

Two minutes later Paite had his try from close punched away by the ‘keeper.

At the other end, DSK Shivajians had a moment of worry in the 13th minute. John Kane, getting clear, ended up with his try going over. Midway through the half, DSK Shivajians lost Gagandeep after a challenge with an opponent left him with a limp. Four minutes laterGagandeep was substituted, and Surachandra Singh was brought in.

Gangtok Himalayan with the one odd attack into the DSK Shivajians’ half hardly tested the defence. A rebound off the wall following a free-kick was poked gently by Surjit Singh into DSK keeper Sayak.

A couple of bookings led to Sanjay Chettri (Gangtok) and Vanlalremkima (DSK Shivajians) receive yellow cards before DSK Shivajians launched themselves in attack once again through Arif Shaikh, only to have him breaching the off-side trap.

Gangtok’s Karma Tsweang joined the referees’ book after he brought down Surachandra. Two close moments followed inside the Gangtok Himalayan’s box. Surachandra’s stiff try had the goalkeeper tip the ball over and later, his cross was headed out by Arif.

DSK Shivajians closed out the half with their second strike. Paite, down the flank, delivered a low cross, which Arif stepped over leaving Rohit clear which he later finished with a low drive past the keeper (2-0).

On resumption, DSK Shivajians lost out on a glorious opportunity to increase the tally. Kim, running clear, was brought down resulting in a penalty kick. Kim stepped up, but to his dismay, the goalkeeper judged well and thus nullified the chance of a possible third goal.

DSK Shivajians, at the other end, survived when custodian was off the line. Sayak, to his luck, saw an attempt by Jon Lepcha kiss the horizontal and go over. DSK Shivajians stung back, with Kim finding the custodian in his way from six-yards out.

End to end action prevailed after that with neither team managing to get a clear attempt on target. As the game moved into the last 15 minutes, Gangtok Himalayan earned a penalty kick after defender Lalnunsiama brought down an attacker. Lepcha stepped up and sent Sayak the wrong way to pull one back for the Sikkim team(2-1).

The opponents were growing in confidence following the goal, but it was DSK Shivajians ‘keeper who denied Nima Lepcha with a brilliant collection. Deep into the half, Shane McFaul did well to avert a couple of situations and keep the score favoured with DSK Shivajians.

DSK Shivajians will now play Indian Navy on 2nd September at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi.

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