Shillong, Jun 2: Mawlai and Khliehmawlieh both ended their respective group stage campaigns and moved on to the semifinals of the Meghalaya State League 2023 with victories, which should put them on a firm footing once the knockouts begin.

Khliehmawlieh defeated Group D bottom side Warima Youth Club 3-1 at the Chandmari Ground in Tura but in Shillong, Mawlai set the new benchmark for goals scored in a match by pumping in a dozen to trounce Seng Samla Laitryngew 12-0 at the MFA Turf in Group A thanks to five goals by tournament top scorer Donlad Diengdoh.

In Jowai, Niaw Wasa United’s topsy turvy season had a final twist as they were held to a 3-3 draw with the weakest side in Group B, Sein Pynbhalang, at the Kiang Nangbah Stadium. There was also a surprise in Group C, where Pyndengrei ended their MSL 2023 with their first points after a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Riangdo.

Despite winning all four of their previous games and topping Group A, Mawlai refused to take their foot off the accelerator and Diengdoh blazed a trail with his goals coming in the 15th, 28th, 49th, 58th and 77th minutes, his fifth coming off a blinding left-footer following quick passes by Robert Khongriah and Remark Kharmalki that set him up for the shot.

In addition, Dajiedlang Wanshnong (18′, 31′, 39) scored a hat-trick in the first half, while Khongriah (11′, 62′) and Kenstar Kharshong (13′, 79′) bagged a brace each with goals in either half.

Other than defending champions Shillong Lajong (who have two games still to play), no team other than Mawlai have won all of their matches in MSL 2023 and they will look to keep up this fine form in what is their maiden season of the statewide league.

In Tura, Warima bagged the first goal via Akim R Sangma (11′) on the run but Khliehmawlieh gathered themselves up from this early setback to respond with goals by Shelbikstar Kharshilot (34′, 52′) and Lenny Kravity Lyngdoh (73′) and they had at least three more good attempts denied by the woodwork.

In Mawkyrwat, Pyndengrei also had to overturn a deficit in order to win and what made this result more special is that it was their first win of MSL 2023 after four defeats. Silverstar Thongni grabbed the lead for Riangdo in the 22nd minute and his team lead all the way until Alandonal Sohlangpiaw pumped in a brace in the 54th and 62nd minutes.

Finally, Jowai saw yet another intriguing match-up with Sein Pynbhalang saving their best performance for their very last fixture. Paiabanteiskhem Bhoi (14′) got his team on the scoresheet early on and Niaw Wasa then equalised via Enrigue Malvin Marshra (26′). Still, the former champions were unable to stamp their authority on the game and Sambiang Wara Wet (28′) headed in a corner taken by Leiborki Ymbon to give Sein Pynbhalang the lead once again just two minutes later.

A delicious free-kick by Civility Khongmalai (41′) restored parity and 2-2 was how it ended in the first 45 minutes but there was more to come in the second session.

This time Niaw Wasa created several goal scoring opportunities but only converted one, via Buromlangki Salahe (52′). As the minutes ticked by, it looked more an more likely that Niaw Wasa would be able to hold on for that victory but the tables were turned when Sein Pynbhalang were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box and it was converted expertly by Bhoi (88′), who smashed it into the ceiling of the net.

Tomorrow’s fixtures:
Group A, Shillong – Jyntru vs Langsning, 3PM
Group B, Jowai – Youth Club Pdengkarong vs Rangdajied United, 2:30PM
Group C, Mawkyrwat – Seven United vs Shillong Lajong, 3PM
Group D, Tura – Chipakkore vs Wa’sa FC, 3PM

(Meghalaya Football Association photo. Mawlai’s Donlad Diengdoh in white/green in action against Seng Samla Laitryngew in yellow)

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