Shillong, Dec 22: Shillong Lajong will be hoping for some Christmas cheer as they will take on Mohun Bagan on Sunday in Kolkata in the Meghalaya side’s ninth match of the I-League 2018-19 season. Kick-off is at 5PM.

Lajong have not won any of their four away games so far, but Bagan are experiencing their own challenges in matches in Kolkata this season – the Mariners have not won once on their home turf, drawing with Aizawl FC 2-2, losing to Churchill Brothers 3-0, drawing with Chennai City 1-1 and then losing to East Bengal 3-2 when the latter were the hosts.

A quirk of statistical fate means that SLFC have never lost their ninth match of an I-League season, so we could be in store for something new if Mohun Bagan win at home or if Lajong get their first point on the road this season.

The Kolkata side will, however, go into the game on a winning note after beating reigning champions Minerva Punjab 1-0 away on Wednesday.

Lajong, meanwhile, have had nearly two weeks to recover from their 6-1 mauling at the hands of Real Kashmir in Srinagar on 11th December. They since returned to Shillong to rest and recharge.

In frigid Srinagar Hardycliff Nongbri got his first start of 2018-19, while on-loan Kitboklang Pale played the second half as a substitute. They played well enough, but something has to improve in defence.

The numbers speak for themselves. The defeat to Kashmir was the worst margin of defeat in the I-League for the Reds since January 2014 (when they were whacked 6-0 at Churchill).

Lajong have scored 10 goals, which is more than Aizawl (9), Minerva (6) and Indian Arrows (3), but they’ve gone and conceded 22 goals, which is far more than any other side.

Mohun Bagan have conceded 10 goals in all, nine of which have come in Kolkata. They experimented with a different set-up against Minerva, though, going with one outright forward while reinforcing the midfield and that seemed to do the trick.

The last I-League meeting of these two sides in Kolkata ended 1-1 on 14th December. This year Bagan are in the middle of the table with 12 points, while Lajong are right at the very bottom with just four.

(TSR file photo)

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