The Indian Arrows, on Friday, faced a 2-3 defeat to Neroca FC in a very exciting contest in the 79th game of the 12th Hero I-League. The game was being played at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.
Hero of the Match Boris Singh drew first blood for the Indian Arrows in the 34th minute, which was also the 200th goal in the ongoing season. Felix Chidi, though, soon found the equalizer in the 38th minute for Neroca FC. The second half saw the Arrows regaining their lead through Rohit Danu in the 62nd minute but Katsumi Yusa’s brilliant header in the 68th nullified the lead again. The Japanese star fired his second goal for Neroca FC in the 87th minute, this time from the penalty spot, to seal the win for the visitors.
The first half began with the Indian Arrows wearing their sky blue kit while visitors Neroca FC donned a white kit with shades of orange. The game began on a slow pace, with most of the play taking place in the midfield apart from the occasional attempts from the hosts.
Visitors Neroca FC were playing a much-organized game and enjoyed a higher possession all throughout. The first half an hour of the game saw the Manipur-based side on the better side of proceedings with some close attempts, but the lack of a good finish eluded them from scoring. The Arrows, who were trying hard to come back into the game, kept on penetrating with attacks on the counter but couldn’t really succeed in their act.
Their efforts, however, were soon rewarded when Boris Singh made the most of an opportunity and converted a cross from the right side to fire in a goal for Indian Arrows in the 34th minute. This also was the 200th goal of the Hero I-League this season.
The Arrows celebrations did not last long as Neroca FC soon equalized four minutes later through Felix Chidi. The game thereafter opened up a bit and both sides were attacking in short bursts but neither of them could convert any of the chances that came their way. The first half came to an end with both Indian Arrows and Neroca FC locked in at 1-1.
The second half began with the Indian Arrows leading the proceedings on the attacking front but were unable to make the most from the opportunities that came their way. The side managed by Manuel Fraile, who looked a little scattered, tried organizing themselves in the second half but were unable to create any chances to take the lead.
A defensive error from Neroca FC cost them the first goal in the first half and a similar error in the second half again saw them conceding another goal to the young Indian Arrows in the 62nd minute. Rohit Danu made the most of the situation as he dispossessed the Neroca centre-back and showed his alertness as he comfortably found the back of the net to regain the lead for Indian Arrows.
However, last season’s runners-ups were rattled by their mistakes again and sprung back to action and found an equalizer through a brilliant header from Katsumi Yusa in the 68th minute, who was given time and space in the penalty area and headed across the opposing keeper to convert a cross from the right flank.
The game thereafter saw Neroca FC creating many chances but they were unable to find a lead until the 87th minute when a handball inside the Arrows box saw the visitors being awarded a penalty kick. Katsumi Yusa made no mistake in finding the back of the net and handed the lead to Neroca FC for the first time in the game, taking the score to 2-3 in favor of the visitors.
In the dying moments of the match, the Indian Arrows made numerous attempts to find an equalizer but Neroca FC were alert enough to not let any further mistakes happen as they picked up all three points.
Full-time: Indian Arrows 3:2 NEROCA
90: Three minutes added on.
89: Substitution Sebastian Thangmuansang OFF Mohammad Abdul Salam IN
87: Penalty Goal!! Goal Yusa Katsumi scores for Neroca
85: Substitution Boris Singh Thangjam OFF Abhijit Sarkar IN
77: Substitution Ronald Singh Shaikhom OFF Surjakanta Tongbram IN
71: Substitution Khumanthem Ninthoinganba Meetei OFF Rahul Kannoly Praveen IN
68: Goal! Yusa Katsumi scores for Neroca
67: Substitution Sushil Meitei OFF Jerry Onesemas Pulamte IN
62: Goal! Rohit Danu scores for Indian Arrows
49: Yellow card Moirangmayum Ashok Singh
46: Substitution Narender OFF Rohit Danu IN
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: Indian Arrows 1-1 NEROCA
45: One minute added time
34: Goal! Odili Felix Chidi scores for Neroca
34: Goal! Boris Singh Thangjam scores for Indian Arrows
1: First half kick-off
NEROCA line-up: Mauro Boerchio, Varney K Kallon, Ashok Singh Moirangmayum, Shaikhom Ronald Singh, Naorem Tondomba Singh, Katsumi Yusa, Felix Odili Chidi, Singam Subash Singh, Sebastian Thangmuansang, A. Sushil Meitei, Chingakham Roshan Singh
Indian Arrows line-up: Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Boris Singh Thangjam, Jitendra Singh, Narender, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Khumanthem Ninthoinganba Meetei, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Rahim Ali, Akash Mishra, Asish Rai, Deepak Tangri.