In a match that was end-to-end, Shillong Lajong beat rivals Aizawl FC 3-1 to win the North East derby at Shillong today. Aizawl in the second minute of the game, but the home side came back strongly to gun down the visitors and climb up to fifth place in the table from being at the bottom.
Shillong Lajong FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Samuel Shadap, Issac Vanmalsawma, Pritam Singh, Robin Gurung, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Bipin Singh, Nim Tamang, Fabio Pena, Zoding Ralte, Penn Orji
Aizawl FC: Lalawmpuia Lalawmpuia, Lalruat Thara, Lalchawnkima Lalchawnkima, Lalram Chullova, Ricky Lallawmawma, Albert Zohmingmawia, David Lalrinmuana, Yuta Kinowaki, Alfred Jaryan, Joel Ayeni, Brandon Vanlalremdika
The North-East derby kicked off on Friday night with a lot at stake. Shillong, who were bottom of the table, going into the game could catch up on their neighbours with a win, and Aizawl came into the game having beaten the previously unbeaten Mohun Bagan and looked to carry their form into this clash.
With less than 75 seconds on the clock, the away side raced into the lead when Shillong custodian Vishal Kaith made a hash of a corner by David to concede the lead. Joel Sunday pounced on the mistake putting Aizawl a goal to the good early on. And it was evident that defence wasn’t the order of the day, as Aizawl forward David and Shillong midfielder Bipin tested either goalkeeper in the first ten minutes. But the real madness had not begun yet.
That came in the 17th minute when Fabio Pena scored in the 17th minute and followed up his act within 40 seconds to put Shillong 2-1 ahead, before cramps saw the Brazilian get subbed. For Shillong’s first goal, Samuel struck a stinger from the left wing which Lalawmpuia punched clear only for Penn Hoji to dance his way into the box, feeding Bipin Singh whose cross ricocheted off the keeper for Fabio to head into an empty net. The second goal was scored before the audience could even drink in the first one with Fabio racing clear on the right wing before smashing one in the far post as the crowd erupted. Fabio however, had to limp off in the fallout, and was replaced by Uilliams. The Brazilian was involved almost immediately.
In the 27th minute, Samuel and Uilliams came close but Lalawmpuia produced a double-save to deny the home side from broadening the lead. After Samuel threatened twice more, either side of the half-hour mark, that is exactly what happened. The Mizoram midfielder, who had been threatening since kick-off, finally scored in the 38th minute. The 17-year-old curled one from the edge of the box to double Shillong’s lead placing the ball beautifully in the top corner. The Aizawl defence were at fault for ball-watching and not closing down the midfielder and went into the break two down, despite Joel Sunday having a late chance.
The second half started slowly, but soon the away side started to flood men forward, hoping to ignite a comeback but hit a brick wall in Vishal Kaith. The custodian, who had a terrible first half, redeemed himself in the second by pulling off excellent saves to deny Joel, Kinowaki and Jaryan in quick succession. Jaryan again came close in the 75th minute but fired wide from 12 yards as the away side continued to hunt for a goal to pull themselves back in the game.
Joel Sunday showed off a few tricks in his armour, when he plucked the ball out of thin air using his right boot before letting fly, only to see his shot trickle wide. Jaryan had another couple of chances before the end, but it wasn’t enough as Shillong won the derby and earned bragging rights after an open game of football.