I-League: Composed Shillong Lajong defeat fancied Dempo 2-0
Shillong Lajong FC struck twice in the second half at the Dempo SC to sink the home team 2-0. Boithang Haokip scored the first goal of the game from an eye-catching curling free-kick in the 55th minute while Cornell Glen scored the second goal in the 68th minute to seal the match in Lajong’s favour.
Arthur Papas composed his starting line-up in a strange manner by placing Costa Rican World Cupper Carlos Hernandez on the substitutes bench. Also, veteran Clifford Miranda was chosen ahead of the talented left-winger Mandar Rao Desai. The Australian also trusted his new U-19 recruit Germanpreet Singh ahead of experienced players like Jewel Raja Sheikh.
Thangboi Singto on the other hand finally got a chance to avail the services of his North Korean defender Son Min-Chol. Uilliams Souza also started alongside marquee player Cornell Glen in the striking department.
Lajong wasted opportunities to score in the first half
Lajong looked more composed in their attacks in the first half. They could have taken the lead had Penn Orji not missed an easy sitter in the early stages of the game. Cornell Glen provided a brilliant through-ball, which Orji just had to place, but he failed to do so. Laxmikant Kattimani was careful while making the save and the ball went away for a corner.
Dempo SC were looking clueless in their approach. They maintained possession but failed to create goal scoring opportunities. Tolgay Ozbey lacked a definite partner upfront and was easily marked by the visiting defenders.
Cornell Glen also missed twice in the first half, one of which was an easy sitter. A player of his calibre is expected to not let go of such opportunities. Boithang Haokip dribbled past two defenders in the box and provided a sideways pass towards Glen. Glen then trapped the ball well but blasted it way above the goal post from less than 5 yards distance.
Glen’s individual goal capped a solid second half for Lajong
Dempo’s Australian manager amended his mistake at the beginning of the second half by introducing Jewel Raja in midfield in place of an ineffective Germanpreet, who was at fault several times in the first as he allowed the opposition midfielders control the game. Mandar Rao Desai was introduced too at the same time.
Jewel Raja’s inclusion proved to be a good move as Dempo started controlling the game in the midfield area. They maintained more possession and pressed in the attacking third.
Against the run of play, the home team conceded the first goal in the 55th minute. Cornell Glen was brought down on the edge of the penalty box by a Dempo defender and free-kick was awarded. As usual Lajong’s set-piece taker, Boithang Haokip came forward to take the free-kick, and curled a beautiful ball which found the back of the net leaving Laxmikant Kattimani clueless.
Tolgay Ozbey could have restored parity just minutes after the goal from a counter-attack. He got a through ball inside the penalty box and should have finished from close range, but failed with his attempt.
Dempo SC attacked with more purpose after the goal. Carlos Hernandez was finally brought on in place of Clifford Miranda. Carlos’ inclusion added creativity and imagination to Dempo’s attacks.
Just when Dempo were looking dangerous, Cornell Glen ran down the field with great speed, dribbled past three Dempo defenders and scored the final goal of the game, a brilliant solo goal.
Dempo still managed to generate a few good moves and goal scoring opportunities, but Tolgay and Carlos missed the chances. The Lajong defense looked much more composed than in the previous games. They were strong and never allowed the Dempo attackers to exert their dominance.
Arthur Papas’ men remain in the bottom half of the league table after today’s home defeat. They will have to face the Kolkata giants East Bengal in their next encounter next Sunday in Goa. Shillong Lajong, on the other hand, will be encouraged by getting full points from a crucial away fixture.