I-League 2015/16: Shillong Lajong defeat East Bengal to end Aizawl’s stay in the league

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Image Courtesy: © Facebook - I-League

I-League 2015/16: Shillong Lajong defeat East Bengal to end Aizawl’s stay in the league

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Arun S Kaimal

04/25/2016

Issac Vanmalsawma’s goal helped Shillong Lajong defeat East Bengal by a solitary goal to confirm their place in the I-League next season. Shillong’s win also ended Aizawl’s stay in the league after the club finished in the relegation position to return to the second division after just one season.

Starting Line-ups:

Shillong Lajong: Kunzang Bhutia (GK), Robin Gurung, Konsham Singh, Pritam Singh, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Penn Orji, Issac Vanmalsawma, Fábio Pena, Zodingliana Ralte, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Uilliams

East Bengal: TP Rehenesh (GK), Arnab Mondal, Bello Razaq, Saumik Dey, Samad Ali Mallick, Harmanjot Khabra, Mehtab Hossain, Lalrindika Ralte, CS Sabeeth, Do Dong-Hyun, Ranti Martins

Relegation-threatened Shillong Lajong welcomed third-placed East Bengal to their home venue for the last game of the season. Shillong needed to just avoid defeat in the game to avoid relegation, but Shillong coach, Thangboi Singto went with an attacking line-up for the game with Brazilians Fábio Pena and Uilliams leading the line. East Bengal, on the other hand, came into the match with nothing to play for in the season, after Mohun Bagan’s win against Champions Bengaluru confirmed the Red and Golds’ third-place finish.

With a draw enough for the home side and East Bengal with nothing to play, the game got off to a sedate start with both sets of players taking it slow initially. But, Shillong goalie Kunzang Bhutia made a meal of Lalrindika Ralte’s free-kick in the 15th minute to almost gift the away side a lead. Kunzang Bhutia came out in a bid to collect the ball and missed it completely, but alert defenders of Shillong Lajong covered for the goalie and cleared the ball to keep the score deadlocked.

The lapse at the back woke the Shillong players up from their slumber and they pushed forward in search of a goal. Uilliams and Fabio Pena troubled the East Bengal defence whenever they attacked, but the end product remained missing. East Bengal goalie TP Rehenesh was called into action just before the break after Fabio Pena produced a shot from inside the box. The shot came at a good height and Rehenesh saved it at the near post to go into the break goalless.

East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan introduced Mohammed Rafique and Sanju Pradhan for Samad Ali Mallick and C S Sabeeth few minutes after the break as the gaffer tried to energise the attacking line. But, it was Shillong that drew the first blood in the 62nd minute after Issac Vanmalsawma’s shot took a deflection off Arnab Mondal to find the net.

East Bengal stitched together a few passes in midfield as they tried to find an equaliser in the last twenty minutes, but the home side stuck to their job and stopped Ranti Martins and co from causing any danger. With the win, Shillong confirmed their place in the I-League next season, while Aizawl got relegated to the second division after finishing eighth in the table. Although, DSK Shivjians finished bottom of the table, the Pune club was never in danger of relegation after getting a corporate entry this season.

Mumbai FC vs DSK Shivajians

On the other match of the day, Mumbai FC defeated DSK Shivajians 4-0 to confirm their place in the I-League next season. Jayesh Rane, Eric Brown and Sushil Singh scored the goals for the home side to take them past their Maharashtra rivals. Jayesh Rane opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a tap in before Eric Brown doubled the score two minutes later with a strike at the near post. Sushil Singh put the match to bed even before the end of the half after beating Subrata Paul from a strike from edge of the box. Eric Brown added another just before the end of the match to make it 4-0 for the home side. 

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