I-League: Mahesh brace gives Shillong Lajong win over Aizawl, Minerva held by Churchill

first_imgMahesh Naorem Singh starred in Shillong Lajong’s 2-1 win over 2017 I-League champions Aizawl FC while defending champions Minerva Punjab were held for a goalless draw at home by Churchill Brothers on Sunday.An all-Indian young Lajong squad put their heart out on the pitch as they brought up a hard-fought victory over the former champions in the Northeastern derby at the back of a brace from Mahesh.On the other hand, Minerva did not have a very good start to their title defence as they dropped two points in front of a vociferous home crowd of over 9,000 and failed to show any real dominance as Churchill Brothers showed more quality on the pitch but failed to make their chances count.Lajong and Aizawl put up a brilliant show of fluid and pleasing football in front of the crowd in Shillong with the home side drawing first blood in the 20th minute of the [email protected] grab the first 3 points of the season defeating @AizawlFC 2-1 in the first North East Derby.#LAJAFC #HeroILeague #ILeagueIConquer pic.twitter.com/SOZjkbGiG5Hero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) October 28, 2018Mahesh, who was the Hero-of-the-Match, scored a belter to put Lajong in the lead as Aizawl struggled to control the pace and quality which Lajong went forward and forayed up front.With time in the match, Aizawl did begin to find their footing and troubled the Lajong defence every now and then, making up for a scintillating first half of football.Both teams created a number of opportunities for themselves but could not find the final ball as the half time whistle was blown with Lajong holding on to their slender lead.advertisementJust six minutes into the second half, Mahesh scored his second goal by connecting with a beautiful cross from Rakesh Pradhan to give Lajong a 2-0 lead over the visitors. The quick-passing and off-the-ball movement were the highlights of the second goal by Lajong.51′ GOALLLL!!!!What a day for the @lajongfc #Mahesh (13) as he scores his second for the day with a beautiful cross from #RakeshPradhan (2) giving the hosts a comfortable two-goal lead over @AizawlFCLAJ 2 0 AFC #LAJAFC #ILeagueIConquer #HeroILeagueHero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) October 28, 2018However, that did not peg back Aizawl at all. In fact, they pushed even more men forward and thereafter, Lajong were pinned at the back defending their goal desperately.With 20 minutes left in the match, a moment of mistake from the young Lajong keeper gave Aizawl a penalty. Kromah stepped up to take the penalty and without a fuzz, found the back of the net to bring Aizawl right back in the match.Thereafter, Aizawl kept pressing for more goals while Lajong were left panting and heaving to defend their one-goal lead. Aizawl had a number of opportunities were Lajong barely scraped to put the ball away but the home side managed to hold on to get three points on the board.With the win, Lajong took the third spot in the table. Chennai City lead the pack with a goal difference of three while East Bengal are second with a goal difference of two.MINERVA BEGIN TITLE DEFENCE WITH A DRAW Defending champions Minerva Punjab could not set the pace of the 2018-19 I-League season. (AIFF Photo)Minerva Punjab vs Churchill Brothers was a match that could be identified by its lack of imaginative attack and decisive passing and movement.Even though Minerva chose to go with an attacking formation with Nigerian Philip Njoku and Souvik Das as wing backs and William Opoku Asiedu and Manandeep Singh up front, they simply lacked the decisiveness close to the Churchill box.Njoku, who was the Hero-of-the-match, gave a good account of himself and made a number of forays. However, he lacked support and perhaps needs a bit more time to settle into the team and the league.Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, had Willis Plaza in their attack. Remember the name? He is the match who played for East Bengal in the previous season and lit up the league with 11 goals in 24 appearance for the Kolkata club. On Sunday in Chandigarh, he was at the end of most of the chances that Churchill had but failed to find the back of the net.The match was a battle of the midfield, where Churchill fared much better at the back of good performances from Dawda Cessay, Aucho and Hangshing. As early as the ninth minute, Cassey almost set up a goal when he took a short corner that saw Aucho put a good ball for Plaza. Plaza was at the end of a free header but to Churchill’s dismay headed the ball just wide.advertisement Churchill Brothers created many chance but failed to find the back of the net. (AIFF Photo)In the 20th minute, Plaza scuffed up an even better chance as the Minerva keeper Bhaskar Roy made a crucial interception to let Plaza score the goal. Hussein Eldor snatched a ball in the Minerva half and laid it for Plaza but Trinidadian international footballer could not get on the scoresheet.The second half of the match saw Minerva create better chances for themselves and foray forward much better with Delhi’s Dilliram Sanyasi on the wings. Njoku, Sangwan and Souvik played some fine football but a goal, nonetheless, eluded the game.Right in the dying moments of the match, Churchill substitute Uttam Rai had a brilliant chance to win it for the visitors when he had just Bhaskar to beat but volleyed it straight at the keeper.Churchill and Minerva took the sixth and seventh spot, respectively, on the I-League table after the draw.last_img

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