Neroca FC defeated Shillong Lajong by a solitary goal through Singam Subhash Singh as they climbed to third, leapfrogging their Northeastern counterparts. The Manipuri side struck late, scoring in the 83rd minute at the JN Stadium.
Lajong, as well as NEROCA FC, played some attacking football in their pursuit of the opening goal. The away side, NEROCA played with confidence and countered with ease, as Lajong’s defence was left exposed time and again.
The hosts Lajong, on the other hand, mounted an attempt in order to try and secure their position in the game. Towards the middle of the first half, Lajong looked like they would concede when NEROCA started dominating the game.
In the 27th-minute mark, Yemen international Aiman found himself clear on goal after an inch-perfect ball from captain Samuel Lalmanpuia, but his shot went whiskers away off the post. It was then the goalkeeper Phurba’s time to shine as he was brought into action to tip-off Neroca defender Kallon’s header from a corner.
The first half ended goalless as the last action of the half again saw Phurba punch away a Neroca freekick to prevent the visitors from scoring.
Shillong Lajong started the second half on a different note as the hosts were more dominating on the ball straight from the kick-off and Samuela soon found himself with the ball inside the box after an error by the Neroca defence, but his shot went well above the post.
After the resumption, Nedo Turkovic made his debut for the Manipuri outfit, having replaced Israilov Akhlidin. Meanwhile, Gift Raikhan had to introduce Thokchom Naoba Singh in the 79th minute to replace Govin Singh Moirangthem who was hurt badly.
Four Minutes later, Singam Subash Singh of NEROCA headed a superb cross from Pritam Singh home to leave Phurba completely stranded. The poacher was left completely unmarked by the Lajong defenders and the Neroca FC striker encashed on that to muster all three points for his side.
Lajong will now travel to New Delhi to take on young Arrows on the only Boxing Day fixture of the season whereas Neroca FC will host red-hot East Bengal on December 30.