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I-League: Aizawl FC dominates Shillong Lajong, TRAU FC secures first win

Aizawl FC capitalised on Shillong Lajong FC's errors, securing a 3-0 victory at Polo Grounds. In another match, TRAU FC earned their first win.

I-League: Aizawl FC dominates Shillong Lajong, TRAU FC secures first win

TRAU FC beat Inter Kashi


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 29 Dec 2023 12:18 PM GMT

Aizawl FC took advantage of Shillong Lajong FC mistakes, securing a convincing 3-0 victory at the Polo Grounds in Shillong. Meanwhile, TRAU FC clinched their inaugural win of the I-League 2023-24 season with a 3-0 triumph against newcomers Inter Kashi at Kalyani Stadium in Kalyani on Sunday.

Aizawl FC capitalized on Shillong Lajong FC errors to notch up a convincing 3-0 win in an I-League match at the Polo Grounds in Shillong on Sunday, December 10, 2023. For Aizawl, Lalrinzuala Lalbaknia, R Ramdinthara, and Joe Zoherliana were the scorers.

Aizawl FC have been the in-form team of late and they made the most of their winning momentum on Sunday, brushing aside Lajong’s challenge with ease. The loss also meant that Lajong’s unbeaten run came to an abrupt end despite the side enjoying more than 70% possession in the match.

Lajong are currently in the fourth spot with 16 points from nine matches. They have won four games and drew four times. Aizawl, on the other hand, would get a huge boost after bagging full points in the away match. They have climbed to the second spot behind Mohammedan Sporting with 17 points from nine matches, including five wins, two draws, and as many losses.

A long ball was played towards Aizawl midfielder R Lalthanmawia from the deep. However, Lajong defender Kynsailang Khongsit intervened and tried to clear the ball. His header was poor and it landed at the feet of Lalbiaknia, who shot home his ninth goal of the tournament. The strike also made him the joint-top scorer of the league along with Gokulam Kerala’s Alejandro Sanchez Lopez.

Aizawl doubled their advantage in the 17th minute. A through ball released Lalthanmawia on the left and the winger delivered a beautifully weighted cross across the Lajong defence. R Ramdinthara made a beautifully timed run into the Lajong penalty box before connecting with the ball sweetly and finding the back of the net.

Aizawl extended their lead in the 57th minute when a bungle from Lajong goalkeeper Bishal Lama gifted them their third goal. Lalthanmawia was again in the thick of action as he curled in a corner from the right. Joe Zoherliana evaded his marker and headed down the ball, which bounced awkwardly in front of Lama. The goalkeeper, who should have collected the ball comfortably, failed to react swiftly and the ball crossed the goal line.

TRAU FC beat Inter Kashi

TRAU FC earned their first win of the I-League 2023-24 season, a 3-0 result, against newcomers Inter Kashi at the Kalyani Stadium, in Kalyani, on Sunday, December 10, 2023.

The result was akin to an oasis for the club from Manipur, who have travelled all the way to Kalyani to make it their home this season after they managed a solitary draw and suffered seven defeats in their eight games preceding this match. Their poor form, however, means that they remain rooted to rock bottom on the table.

Determined to turn their fortunes around, the Red Pythons came out all guns blazing, as Danish Aribam gave them the lead in the ninth minute, while Deepak Singh doubled the advantage in the 22nd. Abraham Okyere’s 76th-minute fireball of a strike only helped put the result beyond all doubt.

It was a moment of magic that seemed to raise TRAU out of their early season slumber, as Danish sold a dummy to Inter Kashi defender Lalruatthara, who had his heel dug into the Kalyani turf, attempting to keep the inside angle blocked. The 19-year-old quickly transferred the ball to his left and belted it in, beating Inter Kashi’s experienced keeper Arindam Bhattacharya at the near post.

The second goal also saw a moment of brilliance, albeit from the provider Robinson Singh, who nestled a perfect cross-field through ball into the path of a scampering Deepak on the right. The latter, on the move, laced his shot goalwards and the 33-year-old Bhattacharya was beaten at his near post once again, leaving the Inter Kashi camp shell-shocked.

It was a commendable comeback by Inter Kashi in the second half, at least in terms of mentality, as they shook off their own first-half slumber and tried to gain control of the match. They constantly maintained possession in the middle of the park and looked to overload the TRAU penalty area with bodies, as they sent in the deliveries from the wide areas.

They were, however, playing right into TRAU’s hands. The Manipur side dug in and waited for their chances, which hardly came at a premium. They exploited their place on the flanks, and the acres of space left by Inter Kashi; their reward, a three-goal cushion, came in the 76th minute through Abraham Okyere.

The Ghanaian sprinted past Bijoy VB and squared it to Danish, who dribbled past seasoned campaigners Julen Perez and Peter Hartley, before sending it back to Okyere. It was a simple equation for the Ghanaian, who blasted it past Bhattacharya, albeit at the far post this time.

For a desperate Inter Kashi, the shoulders dropped and the height of their passes rose continually high into the Kalyani sky, which TRAU duly dealt with on their way to their first win of the I-League 2023-24 campaign.

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