SHILLONG: Abdoulaye Koffi scored the late winner as Shillong Lajong edged past Indian Arrows 1-0 in an I-League 2017/18 clash at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Monday evening.
It was a much needed win for the hosts after going three matches without a victory in the league.
Following their norrow win, Lajong moved up to fourth place in the standings with 14 points 9 games while Arrows remained on eighth place with 7 points from as many games.
Lajong started brightly and as early as the 5th minute they put together a flowing passing move which ended with Koffi shooting just wide of Arrows keeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill’s left-hand upright.
Six minutes later, the hosts threatened again, as another fine team move ended with skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia firing a shot just over the target.
After Lajong’s early chances, Arrows gradually settled into the match and began creating attacking opportunities of their own.
Their most notable arrived in the 26th minute when Amarjit Singh released Naorem Roshan Singh with a perfect defense-splitting pass, the winger controlled the ball well to beat his marker before laying the ball to striker Edmund Lalrindika, who was blocked by Daniel Odafin just when he was about to pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, Lajong continued to stretch the Arrows defense and they were awarded a penalty in the 36th minute when Deepak Tangri handled the ball inside the box, but Lalmuanpuia could not convert the penalty.
Thereafter, Lajong enjoyed a good spell of attacking football going into the half-time break but the Arrows defense was tactically sound and resolute on open play and held their lines well as the half ended goalless.
Lajong commenced the second-half like a house on fire, and Lalmuanpuia came within inches of opening the scoring nine minutes after the break, but he was unlucky to see his attempt from a free-kick canon off the frame with Prabhsukhan well beaten.
Five minutes later, Abhijit Sarkar went close for Luis Norton de Matos’ troops on the other side of the pitch, but the striker’s powerful effort whistled inches wide of goal.
While Lajong continued to terrorize the Arrows defense, the visitors ran out of steam as the second half wore on, with their midfield struggling to reassert the control they enjoyed in the first stanza, though they remained a dangerous prospect on the counter.
Having missed some half chances, the hosts duly found the breakthrough in the 80th minute as Koffi slotted home from inside the box.
Arrows, towards the end, threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer, but they were unable to bypass the Lajong defense and the hosts sealed all three points.