In a match that was a tale of two keepers, a gritty performance saw DSK Shivajians pick up a historic first ever away win in the I-league. While Sanju Pradhan opened the scoring in the 15th minute, it was Shane McFaul’s 43rd-minute finish from three yards that proved the difference. Former DSK Shivajians striker Asier Pierrick Dicka scored for Shillong Lajong, on the 35th minute, topping the scoring chart of the 2017 I-League.
The Match kicked off with Shillong Lajong looking to assert their stamp on the game, however, it was DSK Shivajians that made the first impact on the game with Sanju Pradhan coming close to Vishal Kaith’s goal, with the ball going inches wide.
On the other end of the pitch, an interesting battle was developing between the pacey Rupert Nongrum and DSK Shivajians’ reliable young left back Jerry Lalrinzuala. With Lajong fending off the Pune based side’s attacks, Dicka, who plied his trade with the DSK Shivajians last season was a livewire in attack for the Home Side.
The sixth minute saw Nirmal Chettri put his body on the line to block off the Cameroonian’s attempt. With Sairuatkima proving to be a revelation in defence, he perfectly filled the void left by Serbian Sasha Kolunija in the heart of the DSK Shivajians’ back four. Dicka’s physical prowess, was, however constantly causing problems in the DSK Shivajians penalty area. However, a lightning attack by the Away side saw them take the lead through a Sanju Pradhan strike.
Sanju, who chipped the ball to Halicharan, saw the Assamese take a shot. The shot was, however, deflected by a defender back into the path of Pradhan, who made no mistake in slotting the ball in the back of the net. Buoyed by the opener, DSK Shivajians surged ahead with a great run which saw Jerry Lalrinzuala cut past as many as five opposition players! With shot after shot at the Shillong Lajong goal, their young custodian Vishal Kaith was giving one of the performances of his life, blocking shot after shot.
The home team finally caught a break on the 35th minute when Dicka found the back of the net from a shot of a poorly cleared corner kick. DSK Shivajians were however, quick to respond with Shane McFaul finding the back of the net in the 43rd minute. The goal came off a corner, where a fumble by Vishal Kaith saw the ball fall into the defenders path. Like a fox in the box, the 6 foot 1 inch Irishman made coolly slotted the ball in the back of the net. The teams went in with DSK Shivajians 2-1 in the lead.
The second half started off with both teams employing a more measured approach. As the half wore on, however, it became evident that DSK Shivajians had switched tactics and looked to hurt Lajong on the Counter. With the Reds keeping the ball, Subrata Paul was called into action on more occasions than one, with Juan Quero and Kim Song Yong proving to be DSK Shivajians’ only outlets in attack. The 74th minute saw the Arjuna Awardee pull off a brilliant save off a Yuta Kinowaki Pile driver.
While DSK Shivajians missed out on the opportunity for a third, Subrata was called into action again in the 81st minute where he pulled off a miraculous save on his near post. The final ten minutes saw three saves by the DSK Shivajians Captain with the Away sides counter attacks being firmly defended by the Meghalayan team. With four minutes of time added on, Sanju Pradhan missed out on a double with the last kick of the ball. All’s well that ends well, however, with DSK Shivajians holding on to their lead, and recording their first every away win in the I-League.
“We won three points today and we deserved it. First half, we were outstanding and in the Second Half, Shillong Lajong had a go but my boys defended superbly. They were colossal together, and individually. To come here and get three points is not easy for any team. We got a little bit of luck today, that we’ve previously missed, but to a man, the boys were outstanding,” said DSK Shivajians First Team Manager Dave Rogers.
Emphasising the importance of playing younger players in the league, Rogers went on to say, “The real winner today however, was the I-League and Indian football as we had a total of 20 U22 players when we put both squads together. For me, I give credit to Shillong Lajong for that and I give credit to our setup at DSK Shivajians.”
DSK Shivajians next play Minerva Punjab FC at the Guru Nanak Stadium, Ludhiana on the 15th of February.Published 11 Feb 2017, 22:08 IST