Indian Arrows notched their second win of the Hero I-League campaign as the young colts defeated ten-man Shillong Lajong 3-0 at the Ambedkar Stadium in the capital today (December 26, 2017).
Jitendra Singh’s 19th minute goal, Nongdamba Naorem’s 86th minute strike and a Rahul K.P goal in the dying embers (90+1’) proved to be the difference between the two sides in a match largely dominated by the Indian Arrows, where Lajong had been reduced to ten men in the 60th minute after Lalrohlua was sent off.
Little did the festive season affect the Arrows and brushing aside the rust from their last 0-2 defeat against Gokulam Kerala FC, a robust Arrows took to the field and attacked from the whistle. Jeakson, Amarjit and Suresh Singh’s trio in the midfield proved too hot to handle for the Lajong defence line and the trio regularly slipped passes into the final third.
In the 7th minute, Jeakson Singh’s through ball left the Lajong defenders in disarray and was latched onto by Abhijit Sarkar. Sarkar crossed from the flanks but his cross went amiss of the target. The Indian Arrows continued to dominate possession and glitzy football in the final third with fluid passing hampered Lajong’s defence, but not enough, as the Colts still had nothing to show for their endeavours.
It changed in the 19th minute when defender Jitendra Singh burst onto the scene from a throw-in and netted the ball home to give the Indian colts a solitary goal lead. With the lead, the Arrows looked comfortable with the ball and seldom lost control of possession or their tempo on the match. Dheeraj Singh made his first save of the match way into the dying embers of the first half when he kept out a header. The half-time scoreline read 1-0 in favour of the Indian Arrows.
In the second half, Shillong Lajong spent no time in formalities and searched for the equalizer from the start. A Daniel Odafin shot in the 46th minute itself flew inches over the Arrows bar as Bobby Nongbet’s team made clear their intent to attack.
Lajong although hovered around the Indian Arrows penalty box, did little to pierce as the Indian defence held strong and usually thwarted Lajong attacks with ease. Counter-attacking, in the 57th minute, Ninthoi’s shot from distance came close to doubling the Indian Arrows lead as the colts searched for some breathing space from relentless Lajong pressure.
In the 60th minute, Lajong were reduced to ten-men after Lalrohlua was given his marching order by the referee for a rash tackle on Ninthoi. The task became more uphill for Lajong who not only trailed by a goal but were even playing with a man down.
Indian Arrows made their first substitution of the match as Abhishek Halder replaced Jeakson Singh in the midfield in the 70th minute. In the 73rd minute, the Indian Arrows, trying to take advantage of the reduced number of Lajong men stepped up the ante to double their lead as Rahim Ali’s shot from distance went inches over the bar.
Nongdamba Naorem came on for Abhijit Sarkar in the 76th minute as Indian Arrows made a defensive change to keep Lajong at bay. However a minute later, Lajong almost pulled an equalizer when Khongsit’s lob threatened to go inside the Arrow’s net but failed by few inches.
In the 86th minute, substitute Nongdamba Naorem put the tie to bed as he waltzed past the Lajong defence with ease and slotted the ball home to double Indian Arrow’s lead over the visiting team. Rahul K.P tripled the lead in the dying embers of the match as his shot from distance went straight into the goal to make it 3-0.
The Indian Arrows held their fort and kept Lajong at bay as the full-time scoreline read 3-0 in their favour.