Aizawl seal historic title win after draw with Shillong Lajong in Northeast Derby
Written by: Sourav Neogi
William Lalnunfela scored the equaliser as the Mizoram outfit came from behind to take a decisive point against Lajong...
The most important match of the season for Aizawl FC, this away match saw aggression from both teams with the home team, Shillong Lajong displaying a fine defensive display against the table toppers.
As indicated by Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto, Lajong started the match brightly, pressing the visitors from the first minute itself. The home team was awarded a throw -n, in the first minute by smart tactics from Samuela who kept Kingsley at bay.
The visiting side responded with a well-organized counter-attack as well, countering the hosts in the 3rd minute of the match which saw Brandon deliver a pinpoint cross in the Shillong Lajong box. However, the Aizawl forwards failed to capitalise on the cross as the Reds cleared the ball.
Mahmoud Al Amnah showed glimpses of his individual brilliance with occasional long balls and solo runs with the ball but failed to put his side ahead. However, Lajong, who were seen playing a compact team game, went on to collect an early lead by a strike from Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka in the 9th minute. The star striker received a beautiful cross by Lajong youngster Redeem Tlang, and in turn headed the ball past the visiting goalkeeper Albino Gomes to provide the home side with a necessary lead in the match.
Both teams displayed a certain addiction to wing play, however, Shillong full-backs kept Issac and co at bay while Tiang, Samuela and Yuta Kinowaki ran riot in the visitors’ half.
Despite an early lead, Shillong wasted their fair share of chances to secure even more goals in the first half. Especially in the 17th minute when Dicka tried to put a cross into Aizawl box for Shadap but the cross was intercepted and cleared off the line by Aizawl defending duo Kamo Stephane Bayi and Zodlingliana Ralte.
Just minutes after the chance wasted by Shillong Lajong, the table toppers failed to equalise in the 19th minute when Brandon’s misfired a flick over the crossbar to relieve the pressure on Lajong’s rearguard.
Aizawl forward Bayi displayed some mind-boggling runs on the flank in the first half but could not put a dent in the Lajong defence, courtesy Japanese midfielder Kinowaki who schooled the forward left, right and centre on every occasion they met.
Growing discontent amongst the visitors led to a rash foul on Dicka by Kingsley, which awarded him a yellow card in the 24th minute.
The game also saw two more yellow cards just 10 minutes after the first one, for the hosts’ key midfielder Kinowaki and defender Konsham Chinglensana Singh.
Aizawl were denied on another chance in the 37th minute as the hosts’ youngster Tiang made a goal-line clearance to keep the opponent forward Bayi from scoring.
Match Highlights and Celebration : Shillong Lajong 1-1 Aizawl FC
Three minutes of added time was awarded by the assistant referee as the first half came to an end but both the teams failed to change the scoreline in the allocated time.
The second half started on a similar note to the first half as the home side kept pressing the visitors in hopes of capitalising on chances.
Aizawl made the first substitution of the game in the 46th minute as William Lalnunfela came on to replace V.Laltanpuia in the team. This allowed the visitors to be more effective on the counter-attack as Aizawl seemed to be taking a hold of the game.
In the second half, Jayesh Rane seemed to be dominating the midfield as the former Mumbai FC man was seen distributing key passes, going on forward runs as well as going deep to defend as needed. Rane missed a screamer in the 55th minute when the ball went over the bar and out of play.
The game saw its fourth yellow card of the evening when William Lalnunfela was awarded a yellow card by the referee in the 62nd minute.
Shillong Lajong made their first substitution of the game in the 63rd minute which saw Bipin Singh making way for Samuel Shadap to come in on.
Lajong skipper Nim Dorjee Tamang picked up a yellow card in the 65th minute, making it more complicated for the home side.
Moments after, in the 67th minute, Aizawl FC equalised with a strike from William Lalnunfela who picked up a bouncing ball from a missed free-kick and sent it past the Lajong goalkeeper and into the net.
The next few minutes saw both the teams making several changes into their midst. Aizawl replaced B.Vanlalremdika with H.Lalbiakthanga in the 73rd minute. Lajong brought in Robert Nongrum in the 75th minute and Fabio in the 78th minute to replace Vanmalsawma and Lalmuanpuia respectively.
The last 10 minutes of the match saw several missed chances from the Aizawl forward line, Bayi and Rane to be more specific, which would have won them the match had they gone in the net.
Their were scenes of dilirium among the travelling Aizawl support and amongst their players on the pitch as the team that was relegated last season sealed a historic title success capping off an inspirational story that has captivated the nation.
Published: Sun Apr 30, 2017 09:51 PM IST