Shillong, Dec 6: Shillong Lajong FC’s dream run in I-League 2023-24 continued today as they beat Churchill Brothers 2-0 at First Ground, Polo, here.
The win takes Lajong – now unbeaten after eight games – back to third place in the standings with 16 points. This was also Lajong’s fourth home win in a row. Churchill, meanwhile, have won two, drawn two and lost four matches and lie in ninth place on 8 points.
Laiwang Bohham (45′) earned the first goal towards the end of the first half before Renan Paulino de Souza (51′) converted a penalty at the start of the second.
Lajong could’ve been forgiven for struggling this match as it came just three days after they played Rajasthan United FC in Hyderabad but they dominated the contest against the visiting Goan side today.
However, given the way they came out strongly, the hosts should’ve perhaps taken the lead much earlier in the first 45 minutes. Abdou Karim Samb, one of Lajong’s three foreigners, missed an easy chance early in the game as he headed a cross from Kynsailang Khongsit straight at the veteran Churchill goalkeeper Subashish Roy Chowdhury.
Karim was later involved in the first goal, even if it wasn’t quite what he was aiming for.
A cross from Pursunep on the right went straight to the Senegalese forward, whose swing through the ball saw him mistime his attempt but the ball ballooned off his shin and floated nicely in front of Laiwang who gently assisted it across the line. Churchill appealed for a foul as the ball had perhaps come off Karim’s arm but the referee was in a pretty good position to spot any infraction.
Into the second half and Pursunep and Laiwang were involved again. Pursunep dribbled the ball into the box and fell to ground. Play continued but Laiwang was then almost immediately fouled in exactly the same spot and this time the referee pointed at the penalty spot without hesitation.
De Souza stepped up to take the kick and, though Chowdhury guessed the right way, the ball was placed perfectly low into the side of the net out of the goalie’s grasp.
Churchill weren’t enough of a threat today and they become the first team this season not to score against SLFC, who had otherwise conceded at least one goal in every match.
With 16 points, Lajong are third, tied with Sreenidi Deccan on points but with a weaker goal difference (+13 to +6). Head-to-head doesn’t separate them yet as they had played a 2-2 draw last month.
The Reds will stay at home for their next encounter, a North East Derby against Aizawl FC on Sunday.
Shillong Lajong’s squad today:
Bishal Lama (GK), Ronney Kharbudon, Saveme Tariang, Kynsailang Khongsit, Daniel Goncalves, Hardy Cliff Nongbri (sub Ronaldkydon Lyngdoh Nonglait 90’+7), Renan Paulino de Souza, Laiwang Bohham (sub Figo Syndai 67′ (sub Everbrightson Mylliempdah 90’+7)), Pursunep (sub Shano Tariang 84′), Abdou Karim Samb, Kynsaibor Lhuid
(Photo: I-League media)