Shillong, Jan 31: After three consecutive away matches, Shillong Lajong FC return home to take on Mohun Bagan in an I-League encounter scheduled for 3rd February.

Both teams have 17 points but the Kolkata side are ahead in fourth place thanks to a better goal difference and also have a couple of games in hand. The two have already met before this season, in a 1-1 draw in Kolkata.

This next fixture will be the first of Lajong’s last five of 2017-18 and a victory would be a welcome result after they twice let slip a one-goal advantage to lose to Gokulam Kerala 3-2 on Sunday in Kozhikode.

However (and it’s a big however), in seven previous meetings on SLFC turf Lajong have only managed to beat Bagan once, which is their worst win rate (14.3% to be exact) against any I-League team that they’ve met more than twice at home (Sporting Clube the Goa are second at 16.7%).

It’s been more than five years since the Reds defeated Bagan at home, but that was a glorious day when, in the face of torrential rain, the JN Stadium here was crowded with fans who witnessed a 2-0 triumph for the hosts in their first game of the 2012-13 season.

Since then we’ve had three draws and one Lajong defeat, our TSR statisticians have hastened to remind us. High time indeed for another win for Shillong Lajong over the Mariners.

It hasn’t been the best of years for Mohun Bagan. Fourth place is not a position they’re accustomed to, but, given what a very mixed season this has been for them, there’s no telling how good (or bad) they’ll be come Saturday.

There’s still scope for Bagan to improve on their place in the standings, so Lajong will definitely have to put their best foot forward. Whatever happens, it’s likely to be a high-scoring affair. In the 15 I-League meetings between the two sides there have been 45 goals (SLFC trailing 20 to 25), an average of three per game. Mark your calendars, everyone.

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