Shillong, Nov 11: Shillong Lajong suffered defeat for the third straight occasion today with Gokulam Kerala 3-1 victors in Kozhikode.
Phrangki Buam scored his first ever I-League goal in the 78th minute for Lajong, but that was after the hosts had secured a three-goal lead through Gani Ahmed (43′), Antonio German (56′) and S Rajesh (66′).
There were some other firsts for the visiting team, besides Buam’s goal. Sheen Sohktung made his first starting appearance in the I-League after he was picked in place of Samuel Lalmuanpuia, who was unavailable due to illness. Aiban Dohling was given the captain’s armband in place of Lalmuanpuia. This match also saw Mebankhraw Wahlang receive his maiden I-League cap after he was brought on as a second half substitute.
SLFC had three good chances in the first half, namely at attempt by Buam that Gokulam goalkeeper Shibinraj Kunniyil put out for a corner in the 30th minute; an ultimately harmless shot from a good position by Samuel L Kynshi in the 36th; and a wide attempt by Sohktung in the 41st.
Otherwise it was all Gokulam in the first half and it was a wonder that they didn’t score plenty of goals in the first 45 minutes.
As it was, only one goal was forthcoming with Guilherme Castro’s free-kick nudged in the direction of Ahmed, who scored from a few yards out to give Gokulam a 1-0 lead going into the break.
There was no respite for Lajong in the second half with the Shillong team continuing to face relentless pressure from the local side.
Castro was involved in the second goal as well, when his corner kick went to German, who unleashed a powerful shot that went into the back of the net thanks to a deflection.
Gokulam then pretty much put the game to rest when Ahmed turned provider, easing the ball across the face of the goal for Rajesh to tap it into the net.
Buam netted Lajong a consolation goal late in the game when he was passed the ball by Sohktung. The No. 14 smashed the ball off the post and over the line in his fourth I-League match.
There was a bit of late (and unwelcome) drama for Lajong later when Novin Gurung received a second yellow card and was sent off deep into stoppage time.
SLFC next travel to Goa to play Churchill Brothers, who have drawn all three of their fixtures so far. That game will take place on 15th November. Though Churchill are not the giants of the game that they used to be Lajong still have a terrible away record, having lost four out of six games to Churchill in Goa.
(Photo contributed by Shillong Lajong)