Shillong, Jan 4: Shillong Lajong were beaten for the fifth consecutive time (and ninth overall) in I-League 2018-19, but the 3-2 result in Imphal today in NEROCA’s favour was, at least, the closest that Lajong have come to registering a point in a long time.

Yusa Katsumi converted a penalty in the eighth minute for the hosts before man-of-the-match Subash Singh made it 2-0 in the 21st minute.

Sheen Sohktung then scored his first I-League goal in the 54th minute to reduce the deficit for Lajong, but Aiban Dohling conceded an own goal in the very next minute to give NEROCA their two-goal margin back again in front of more than 20,000 adoring fans. Phrangki Buam, however, clawed a goal back for SLFC in the 89th minute for his fourth of the season.

This was only the third time in 11 games this season that Lajong have scored more than one goal in a match.

Alison Kharsyntiew made five changes to his starting line-up, taking out Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Mebankhraw Wahlang, Phurba Tempa Lachenpa, Kynsailang Khongsit and Allen Lyngdoh Nongbri in place of Naorem Mahesh Singh, Nabin Rabha, Neithovilie Chalieu, Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi and Dohling, who also took over the captain’s armband from Lalmuanpuia.

Dohling tripped up Katsumi in the box early on and the Japanese player converted the penalty himself. Subash, a former Lajong player, then collected a pass from Katsumi to double the lead for NEROCA around a quarter of the way through the game.

There were a couple of chances for both sides in the remaining minutes of the first half, including a Sohktung attempt in the 38th, but the scoreline remained unchanged going into the break.

Mahesh was then fouled early on in the second half inside the NEROCA box and it was Sohktung who took the spot kick. He was blocked by Lalit Thapa, but then scored off the rebound to register his first top flight goal in his 15th I-League appearance for the Reds.

NEROCA bagged their next goal in fortunate circumstances with Malemnganba Meitei’s cross clipping Dohling and going into the back of the net.

Buam then showed how much talent he has within him when he produced a sweet volley that went past the NEROCA goalkeeper just before regulation time.

NEROCA held on for the win, though, and moved to 21 points. This was their 15th I-League win in only their second season.

Lajong, meanwhile, have now lost all seven of their games on the road this season, but they’ll have several positives to take away from this performance and will look to put up a better fight when they meet Indian Arrows at home on 13th January.

(Photo contributed by Shillong Lajong FC)

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