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NEROCA do double over Arrows, extend unbeaten run in top flight to eight games

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An own goal from Anwar Ali in the 18th minute and a late goal from Felix Odili (90’+5′) helped Neroca emerge victorious over the young Turks in front of a 5,000-odd crowd.

Indian Arrows went down fighting to Neroca FC as the Manipuri side won 2-0 in their Hero I-League 2017-18 encounter at the Tilak Maidan on Tuesday continuing their unbeaten run to eight matches on their maiden campaign in the premier division football of India.

An own goal from Anwar Ali in the 18th minute and a late goal from Felix Odili (90’+5′) helped Neroca emerge victorious over the young Turks in front of a 5,000-odd crowd.

Going into the game, Abhijit Sarkar who had scored in the reverse fixture between the two teams made way for Suresh Singh. Another change was Edmund Lalrindika in place of Aniket Jadhav from the last game.

As for the visiting Neroca FC, the goalkeepers were shuffled with Lalit Thapa being replaced by Loitongbam Singh and the captain’s armband was worn by Subash Singh.

In the early exchanges of the game, it was an end to end football with the Arrows attacking trio of Edmund, Anwar Ali and Rahul KP taking up the attacking responsibilities.

At the other end, the visitors resorted to the incisiveness of Felix Odili and Subash Singh who were constantly trying to get in behind Arrows defence line.

When the game was evenly poised, Arrows suffered a setback as they conceded an own goal in the 18th minute.

It started when Neroca FC tried to use the long ball route to test the Arrows defence. Yumnam Gopi Singh floated in a ball into the Arrows box from near the touchline. There seemed to be no danger until a defensive mix-up between Anwar Ali and goalkeeper Prabhusukhan Gill turned out to be a costly mistake.




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Anwar’s header back to the keeper caught Gill unaware. Agonisingly for the Arrows, the ball rolled into the net.

It was an even contest until the own-goal gave Neroca an unexpected lead. Arrows survived another fright as Neroca almost caught Gill off guard again.

Midfielder Aryn Williams launched a shot on goal from the half-way line after winning possession in midfield. The keeper managed to retrieve back in time to collect the ball on the goal-line.

The Manipuri side were mixing it up with long balls and attacks down the flank which was a big test for the youngsters.

Felix Odili and Subash Singh had half chances while India Arrows were not able to make their way into the attacking third until Rahim Ali nearly equalised.

The forward almost got on the end of a beautiful cutback from the right.

The cross beat the Neroca defence and Ali was storming down the left channel to reach the ball but his shot at near post went wide. It was the home side’s best chance but the half ended 1-0 with Neroca leading.

With the introduction of Aniket Jadhav and Abhijit Sarkar at half-time, Arrows had sharpness up front. They were stretching the Neroca defence with Sarkar and Jadhav offering width to the team.

Arrows were passing the ball around and enjoying more possession. Meanwhile, Neroca looked to be playing the waiting game and hit on the counter. They were doing all the defensive work.

At the 75th minute mark, the game lacked any action apart from a hopeful long ranger from Anwar Ali that sailed well over the bar. Rahim Ali nearly got in behind the defence and Suresh Singh also tried a shot from distance.

There was a late flurry from Indian Arrows but Neroca sealed a victory with the last kick of the ball as Felix Odili struck five minutes into added time.

With the win, Neroca take their tally to 18 points from 9 matches just one point shy of second-placed Kingfisher East Bengal. On the other hand, Indian Arrows stay rooted in the seventh spot with 10 points from 11 matches.

Published: Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:28 PM IST

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