Shillong, Aug 20: Malki SC pulled off one of the surprises of the season by defeating Ryntih SC 4-2 in the 38th match of the OC Blue Shillong Premier League 2021-22 at Third Ground, Polo, here today.

Malki went 2-0 up in under 20 minutes thanks to Sanborlang Marwein (1′) and Kordor Dkhar (17′) but Ryntih fought back to draw level by half time with goals from Sheen Sohktung (42′) and Badonkupar Marbaniang (45’+1). Malki, though, rallied to retake the lead via Kyrpadlang Tariang (55′) before Marwein (90’+4) put the game to bed with a second goal deep in stoppage time.

Ryntih had soundly beaten Malki in the first leg 3-0 on 17th June. Coming into today’s game, Ryntih were fourth and had 14 points from nine games, while Malki were second from the bottom with 4 points. Although they remain in the relegation zone, Malki are now within touching distance of sixth-placed Nangkiew Irat, who have 10 points and a game in hand.

Marwein’s opener, coming only 50 seconds into the match, was the fastest of the season but came about fortuitously after he challenged Pynshongdor Shadap in the box. The defender tried to clear the ball but it came off Marwein’s boot and looped up and over Ryntih goalkeeper Eric Nongkhlaw, who had come off his line for an earlier back pass.

Ryntih had just 14 players available for today’s game, as several of their squad have transferred to other national clubs, are on trials outside the city, or were missing through injury or suspension. This forced players to be in positions they were not comfortable with and this showed through their poor passing, and tactics.

Nevertheless, Malki were lucky to score once again as Dkhar’s shot from the edge of the box clipped Shadap and crossed the line. This was the fifth goal that Ryntih have conceded in under 20 minutes this season, an unenviable record.

Ryntih, though, had plenty of time to mount a comeback and the players started to gel well. Before today, Malki had conceded 15 goals in the first half and their erratic defence and goalkeeping were weaknesses. They had half time in their sights when Ryntih pulled a goal back, as Sohktung tapped in after team mate Bickyson Kharkongor missed a sitter.

Marbaniang then fired in the equaliser seconds away from the whistle after Malki simply failed to find a way to clear the ball after some furious action in the box.

Motivated by the quick two goals, Ryntih came out more strongly in the second half and it looked likely that they would grab the lead.

However, it turned out to be Malki who edged ahead again. First, a Kenny Kharnaior shot was cleared in the nick of time by a diving defender but this led to a corner, which Tariang headed powerfully into the net.

The remaining 40 minutes or so saw end to end action, though both teams made mistakes when presented with scoring opportunities. In the end, Ryntih’s players were run ragged and were visibly exhausted, while Malki, who made full use of their substitutions, could inject fresh legs when needed.

When it came down to it, though, it was Marwein who provided the last of Malki’s goals. Dkhar, as he did so often, steamed up the right flank and crossed the ball in. Pynkham Suting controlled it on the left and spotted Marwein making his way down the centre. Marwein received a neat pass, took two touches and nestled the ball past Nongkhlaw for the win.

In a single game Malki scored as many goals as they had in the previous nine matches combined and they will hope to carry forward this momentum next week.

On Monday, fifth-placed Shillong Lajong FC (11 points) will take on leaders Mawlai SC (23). Their first leg meeting was spread across two days, due to bad weather, with Mawlai winning it 1-0.

Monday’s fixture:
Shillong Lajong vs Mawlai, 4PM

(TSR photo)

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