Shillong, Jan 8: After a lengthy wait Abdoulaye Koffi scored his first I-League goal for Shillong Lajong, who beat Indian Arrows 1-0 at the JN Stadium here today.
The hosts had to wait until the 80th minute before they got the winner, with Koffi pulling off a left-footer that clipped the bar and bounced down over the line.
The first half was goalless but not without enough going on to keep the small crowd interested.
The Arrows started off with a couple of good moves within the first seven minutes, but Kynsailang Khongsit swung momentum Lajong’s way with a fantastic run and cross in the 10th that almost proved dangerous but for a defender’s head that got in the way.
There were always going to be question marks over how the two sides would perform in defence as they had both conceded 10 goals each prior to this game. Lajong fielded an all-domestic back line, with Laurence Doe and Oh Juho out of the contest. Midfielder Daniel Odafin slipped into more a defensive role as a consequence.
In the 25th minute Koffi continued on from the last match with his uninspiring finishes, skying the ball way over the bar. A few minutes later Odafin was a little less wide, but still off the mark with a shot of his own.
The standout moments of the first 45 minutes belonged to Arrows’ goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill.
In the 35th minute his team mate Deepak Tangri committed a handball in the box and the hosts’ captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia stepped up to take the penalty. Gill, however, guessed the right way, dived low to his left and snapped up the ball.
With barely any time gone by, Lajong’s Aiman Al-Hagri crossed in a ball from the left and this time Koffi was on target with a header, but Gill pulled off a brilliantly timed leap and put the ball out.
The second half began with Lajong just as dominant. The first real thrilling moment came about on 55 minutes when Lalmuanpuia delivered a screamer of a free-kick that slammed into the crossbar.
Two minutes later the Arrows’ defence had a slip up and that presented Al-Hagri with a solid chance from inside the box on the far side, but he skewed his left-footer well wide of the upright.
Gill pulled off another stunner of a save in the 75th minute following an SLFC set-piece, but he could do nothing to stop Koffi’s shot five minutes later.
The Arrows tried to get back in the game, but though they created good moves forward throughout the 90 minutes, they failed to create clear goal-scoring opportunities and succumbed to their sixth defeat of the season.