Shillong, Jan 13: Shillong Lajong’s dismal I-League 2018-19 continued today as they experienced their worst loss at home this season to Indian Arrows, who won 3-0 here at the JN Stadium.
The Arrows had not scored more than one goal in any of their 11 previous games but were able to pump in three in the first half itself through Vikram Pratap Singh, man-of-the-match Lalengmawia and Ningthoinganba Meetei. This was the first time in seven home games going back to last season that Lajong haven’t scored in Shillong.
Alison Kharsyntiew made just one solitary change to his starting line-up, taking off club top scorer Phrangki Buam in place of Samuel Lalmuanpuia. Buam was then brought on at the start of the second half in place of Sheen Sohktung.
The All India Football Federation development side got the opening goal in the 18th minute after Asish Rai went deep on the right flank, negotiating his way past two Lajong defenders. Inches off the line he put in a lovely cross that Pratap headed over SLFC goalkeeper Neithovilie Chalieu.
On 32 minutes Arrows’ skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam passed the ball to Lalengmawia, who fired from the edge of the box into the top corner of the net.
There was no respite for the hosts, who went further behind in stoppage time. On this occasion Ningthoinganba scored with a left-footer after a team mate’s first attempt was blocked by Chalieu, which left the goalie out of position to deal with the No. 7’s attempt.
While the Arrows looked mature beyond their years, Lajong were utterly uninspiring in what was their best chance to end their losing streak, which has now stretched to six games.
The 12th minute saw a bad back pass by the Arrows, which gave Kitboklang Pale a whiff of a chance, but his effort went into the outside of the net. Pale went wide again 10 minutes later when the ball came off the outside of the boot.
SLFC’s best chance came just before they conceded the third goal when Lalmuanpuia took a free-kick that forced Prabhsukhan Gill into making a good diving save. The resulting corner was headed by Pale onto the body of an Arrows defender. Lajong’s players appealed for a handball, but nothing was given by referee Shubhankar Khamri.
The Arrows could have made it four in the second half when Rahul Praveen made a dash up the pitch, but his cross was foiled by Kenstar Kharshong. The visitors were by no means defensive in the second 45 minutes even with their three-goal cushion, while Lajong appeared dispirited, which was not helped by the very small turnout of spectators.
Lajong will stay at home to take on Real Kashmir on 19th January, while the Arrows move to Kolkata to face East Bengal the day before that.
Lajong: Lalrohlua, Sheen Sohktung (sub Phrangki Buam, 46′), Nabin Rabha, Samuel Lalmuanpuia (C), Kitboklang Pale, Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi, Naorem Mahesh Singh (sub Lalawmpuia Hnamte, 71′), Novin Gurung, Aibanbha Dohling, Neithovilie Chalieu (GK), Kenstar Kharshong
Arrows: Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (GK), Boris Singh Thangjam, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali (sub Deepak Tangri, 75′), Ninthoinganba Meetei (sub Sanjeev Stalin, 78′), Amarjit Singh Kiyam (C), Rahul Praveen, Asish Rai, Lalengmawia, Vikram Pratap Singh, Rohit Danu (sub Akash Mishra, 86′)