Shillong, May 26: It was a day of firsts in the Meghalaya State League 2023, with each of the four matches bringing something new to the season. However, it will be most remembered for Ladthadlaboh’s surprise 1-0 loss to Youth Club Pdengkarong at the Kiang Nangbah Stadium in Jowai, which could spell disaster for their chances to qualify for the semifinals.

In the other fixtures, Group A witnessed Umkseh come from a goal behind to beat Jyntru 3-2 for their maiden win of the season. It was a similar situation in Group D where Atong Matgrik had to overturn a 3-2 deficit at half time to defeat Warima Youth Club 4-3; this was also Atong Matgrik’s first three points of MSL 2023. Finally, in Group C, Mawten and Seven United played out the first goalless draw of the competition.

A massive misjudgement that goalkeeper Juhhi Suchiang will want to forget in a hurry saw Ladthadlaboh concede in the 27th minute after Pdengkarong’s Menri Buam chipped a free-kick into the box in Group B. It should have been collected easily by Suchiang, or at least punched away, but he misjudged the ball and came too far forward, allowing it to sail over his head and into the net.

Although the goal was Suchiang’s fault, at the other end Ladthadlaboh did not look like a team that were challenging for the top of the group. The first half saw them create precious few chances, while it was more promising for them in the second half but none of their attempts found the mark.

The result opens up the way for Rangdajied United to qualify as the top team from Group B. Both Rangdajied and Ladthadlaboh have 10 points each but it is the former who now have a game in hand as well as an advantage in goal difference (+11 compared to +8). Pdengkarong had lost their first three games of the MSL but this win, though they are out of the running for a place in the semifinals, will have brought the team from the Amlarem Block Sports Association and their supporters much joy.

At the MFA Turf in Shillong, Jyntru took the lead in the 33rd minute through a Monush Lapang header. They went into the break still leading by a solitary goal but Umkseh rallied with two goals of their own by Kyrshan Khongsit (57′) and Rangkitbok Rani (61′). Jyntru’s top scorer Emanbha Marbaniang (66′) brought the two sides level once again but Dibasstar Rani’s shot on the run six minutes later gave Umkseh the lead and they went on to win for the first time.

Umkseh, Jyntru and Umrit now have 4 points each but only the latter still have a mathematical chance of making it to the semis as they have a game in hand.

In Tura, Atong Matgrik took a 2-0 lead (thanks to Chingatku N Marak in the eighth minute and Brenath N Marak in the 23rd) against Warima at the Chandmari Ground but then found themselves trailing 3-2 at the end of the first half thanks to a brace by Tremarchwal Ch Marak (26′, 39′) for Warima, which sandwiched an own goal by Atong Matgrik’s Vicky M Sangma (32′).

Vicky (51′) made up for that by scoring the sixth goal of the game to bring Atong Matgrik back on level terms. A corner was headed by Brenath on to the crossbar and Vicky then scored off the rebound.

The last goal of the encounter deserved to be the winning strike as it came about after Walsarang Ch Sangma first put in a bicycle kick that sent the ball towards goal. It probably would not have gone in on its own and thus required Brenath’s (63′) neat little back-heel flick that sent the ball flying into the net.

A first win takes Atong Matgrik off the bottom of the Group D table but they are still only fifth out of six teams with 3 points. Still, they have bragging rights over Warima, who are now in last place with 1 point.

Tomorrow’s fixtures:
Group A, Shillong – Umrit vs Mawlai, 3PM
Group B, Jowai – Mulait United vs Sein Pynbhalang, 2:30PM
Group C, Mawkyrwat – Shillong Lajong vs Pyndengrei, 3PM
Group D, Tura – Selsella Sports Association vs Chipakkore, 3PM

(Meghalaya Football Association photo. Pdengkarong in red, Ladthadlaboh in green/white)

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