Shillong, Jul 14: Mawlai SC and Lumparing SC delivered the best match so far of the Shillong Sports Association’s Women’s League 2023 with the enthralling Group B contest ending 3-3 at Third Ground, Polo, here today.

The earlier fixture, in Group A, saw Laitkor SC win comfortably 3-1 against PFR Football Academy.

All four teams had already secured semifinal berths by winning all of their previous four matches. What was left today was to decide which team would qualify at the top of the respective groups.

Before today, Laitkor were leading PFR on goal difference +35 to +28, while Mawlai were ahead against Lumparing +32 to +23.

Both Laitkor and Mawlai thus only had to draw to keep their first place positions.

In the end, that is exactly what happened to defending champions Mawlai but they were given a tremendous fight by Lumparing, who seized the lead in the 25th minute via Iaphishisha Marbaniang after she met a long ball and placed it wide of the Mawlai goalkeeper, who was off her line.

However, Mawlai were able to draw level just before half time when a handball led to a free-kick that Baiarkynti Mylliemngap (33′) placed expertly into the back of the net.

Before the whistle, her team mate Savinity Jyndiang rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot on goal and the second half saw Mawlai up their game by dominating possession and they took the lead through Da-aijinsuk Basaiawmoit (41′).

However, just a minute later, Mawlai were caught napping a little after a Lumparing appeal for a foul was turned down and in that little lull in play Chibasal Sangma scored with a low shot to make it 2-2.

Mawlai, who have not lost a single match in two seasons of the Women’s League, were not going to settle for a draw and Marbarin Nongrum (57′) tapped in an excellent cross from the right flank to give her side the lead for the second time.

Late drama ensured a fitting end to the match, with Marbaniang denied when her shot slammed into the bar in the 70th minute. The ball fell back into play, though, and the action was not over as Mawlai defenders blocked two more shots from other Lumparing players. The third time proved to be the charm, however, as Catherine Kharkongor (70’+1) found a way through to level the score at 3-3.

It was a much more comfortable performance for Laitkor in the earlier game. Tracy Rympei netted the first goal in the sixth minute and Iaraplang Nongrum added the second in the 13th.

Rympei then turned provider with a neat pass and Nongrum bagged her second goal in the 23rd minute with a strong shot that the PFR keeper got a hand to but could not keep out.

Despite being 3-0 down at half time, PFR came out determined to make an impact in the second half and they showed an uptick in performance that was rewarded with a goal by Elviorika Sohklet (57′). However, despite their best efforts, they could do no more and Laitkor managed the remaining minutes to seal a fifth consecutive victory.

The results mean that Laitkor will face Lumparing in the semifinal round, while Mawlai will take on PFR. Both of these matches will take place on 24th July and the SSA intends to hold these knockout games at the SSA Stadium at First Ground.

In the meantime there are still four matches to go in the group stage and Monday will witness the first of these. On that day, Maw U-Tieng SC will face Iasnohktilang Madanrting FC in Group B at 2:30PM followed by Umpling SC versus Lawei Smit SC in Group A at 4:15PM.

(Shillong Sports Association photo of Lumparing celebrating a goal)

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