SHILLONG, Jan 14, 2018: Playing in the home-ground, the Shillong Lajong FC on Sunday could not give the fans what they aspired for — victory after they lost to opponent Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 in their ninth match of I-League.
A 58th minute strike from William Opoku helped Minerva Punjab FC edge out Shillong Lajong 1-0. The game started on a positive note and the home side went very close to score the opening goal as early as in the first minute. Hardy Cliff Nongbri sent a long ball for Aiman Al-Hagri inside the penalty box who was one on one with Rakshit Dagar. Unfortunately the forward failed to control the ball and it went straight to the Minerva custodian.
Minerva Punjab made just one change in their starting lineup bringing in Lago Dogbo Bei in place of Deepak Devrani. Abhishek Ambekar, who started in the left wing against Mohun Bagan, was deployed in the left-back position. For Lajong, central defender Laurence Doe was back in the starting XI replacing Kynsailang Khongsit.
Lajong got yet another chance to break the deadlock around the 18th minute mark when Alen Deory’s shot at got deflected of a Minerva defender and almost went in. Dagar, who got confused with the deflection, dived to his left to keep the ball away.
Bobby Nongbet introduced Redeem Tlang in the game in the 25th minute in place of an ineffective Al-Hagri to enhance the team’s attack.
It was an end to end affair overall in the first half with Lajong creating better goal scoring chances than Minerva.
The away side took control of the game right from the beginning of second half as they looked desperate for a goal.
The deadlock finally broke in the 58th minute when William Opoku found the back of the net from Chencho’s pass. The Bhutanese star ran down the left flank, beat Novin Gurung with pace and forwarded a square pass for Opoku inside the box. The Ghanaian just had to tap in.
The game opened up completely after Opoku’s goal. Lajong could have equalised within two minutes when Abdoualye Koffi entered the 6-yard box but he was surrounded by too many Minerva defenders and failed to make any impact.
Koffi could have scored the much needed goal in the very next move but Rakshit Dagar came in between. The striker headed in a cross from Lalmuanpuia but Dagar somehow managed to keep the ball away for a corner.
Girik Khosla was introduced in place Lago Bei who failed to create any impact in the game. Khosla’s introduction upfront enhanced Minerva’s attack as he combined well with Chencho.
Minerva remained at the top of the I-League table after today’s win with 22 points from nine matches.