Shillong, Nov 2: Langsning won their second consecutive Shillong Premier League title by defeating Shillong Lajong 1-0 in the final at the SSA Stadium here today.
Kitboklang Pale scored the only goal with a scintillating free-kick from the edge of the box in the 16th minute. Although the scoreline was a narrow one, Langsning held Lajong by the scruff of the neck for most of the match and it was only the brilliant work of goalkeeper Phurba Tempa Lachenpa that kept SLFC in the running.
Conditions at the ground were terrible. The Shillong Sports Association must have been hoping for dry weather, but nature had one final laugh with heavy rain prior to the start that resulted in pools of water on several parts of the pitch.
Such conditions made set-pieces extra important as players lacked the ability to control the ball properly when running with it.
As expected, three-time champions Lajong didn’t field their strongest side as they had just played an I-League match yesterday. However, their starting XI still boasted the likes of Lachenpa, Sheen Sohktung, Kynsailang Khongsit and Hardycliff Nongbri.
Lajong, though, really didn’t look all that likely to score, with just five attempts on goal throughout the match. Sohktung had the best of these opportunities, but he was first denied by Langsning goalie Frolicson Dkhar in the 50th minute before heading over the bar in the 73rd.
The day, in truth, thoroughly belonged to Langsning.
A Lajong handball gave them that scoring opportunity and an absolutely perfect Pale free-kick curled past Lachenpa and into the back of the net. Pale thus joined Phrangki Buam (Lajong), Gamelial Kharlyngdoh (Sawmer) and Joseph Seun (Malki) as the joint top scorer of the tournament with six goals. Yesterday the SSA had announced that their would be a Top Scorer award, but none was given out at the prize distribution ceremony. Pale, however, received the man-of-the-match award.
There were plenty of chances for Langsning after Pale’s goal, with Donlad Diengdoh and Ebormi Buam missing out after half an hour’s play. Pale was then denied by the crossbar in the 38th with Donborlang Nongkynrih blasting the rebound over the horizontal.
The pitch might have dried out a fraction for the second half as Langsning’s chances all largely came in open play.
Lachenpa delivered a stellar performance between the sticks in the second 45 minutes, pulling off at least seven great saves to deny Kynsaibor Lhuid, Brolington Warlarpih and other Langsning players, who relentlessly threw themselves forward in search of another goal, which surely would have put the game to rest.
Lachenpa would go on to receive the Best Goalkeeper award, but TSR is unsure whether this was for the final alone or the tournament as a whole.
Langsning received the winners’ trophy and cheque of Rs 2 lakh from the chief guest, Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, who also happens to be the club’s former secretary. Lajong took home Rs 1 lakh.