Shillong, Oct 11: Former Royal Wahingdoh player Loveday Okechukwu scored in the dying minutes of the game to seal a slender 1-0 win for Madan Maharaj FC over Ryntih SC in today’s Group A I-League Qualifier in Bangalore.
Ryntih dominated proceedings for the majority of the contest but were left to rue their missed opportunities as the experienced Madan Maharaj side held on to snatch a 90th minute winner.
The defeat means that Ryntih will not be able to qualify for the final round of the I-League Qualifiers.
After a tenacious start from both teams, the first moment of concern came in the 19th minute from a wide free-kick for Ryntih. Madan Maharaj cleared the danger but this sight of goal boosted the Meghalaya club’s morale, as Ryntih produced their first shot on target through Chesterpaul Lyngdoh moments later. Chesterpaul found himself in a yard of space in a central position outside the penalty box, but his left-footed shot went straight into goalkeeper Shayan Roy’s hands.
Chesterpaul found himself in sight of goal again in the 25th minute when he got on the end of a cross from Allen. Chesterpaul was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot, but it proved to be a difficult chance to convert as the forward had to bend far too low to generate power and direction in his header.
Ryntih earned a free-kick in a promising position in the inside left area in their attacking third in the 33rd minute. Sheen Sohktung stood over the dead ball situation and aimed for the far post but his shot took a deflection off the wall and flashed past the post. Both teams went into the dressing room at half time on level terms.
After the restart, the best goal scoring opportunity of the match thus far fell Chesterpaul’s way. Allen swung in a peach of a cross with his left foot, and the ball somehow found its way over to the head of the shortest player on the field. Chesterpaul ran on to meet the ball with a perfectly timed late run, but he took his eye off the ball at the last moment and could not keep his header on target to give his side the lead.
As the game inched towards the final whistle, there was an increasing sense that one goal might be enough to decide this closely fought tie.
That proved to be just the case as Madan Maharaj’s Nigerian centre back Okechukwu at the 90th minute rose highest from a set-piece to send a looping header over Ryntih goalkeeper Neithovilie Chalieu.
The goal came at the perfect time for MMFC, who were wary not to let their lead slip away on this occasion as they oversaw the final few minutes without much difficulty to seal a 1-0 victory and join Rajasthan United FC at the top of Group A with four points from two matches. The defeat dashed Ryntih SC’s qualification hopes with one match still left to play against Bengaluru United on Wednesday.
(Photo: AIFF media)