Newly-appointed head coach Hering Shangpliang got off to a winning start with Rangdajied United when his team edged past Bengaluru FC by a score of 3-2 in an I-League encounter at the Polo Ground in Shillong on Saturday.
Shangpliang made two changes to the team that had gone down by a couple of goals at Dempo, with Yohei Iwasaki and David Ngaite giving way to Kim Song Yong and Ranti Martins, who was making his debut for the club.
Rangdajied started the game on a bright note, with Ranti Martins’ cross into the box almost being met by Kim, with Bengaluru custodian Pawan Kumar coming to his side’s rescue at the last moment.
Six minutes later, Steven Dias put Rangdajied up front with a well-taken shot, sending the home fans into raptures. The goal pumped up the Blues, and they kept piling on the pressure on the Bengaluru side.
Ranti Martins had a go at the goal in the 25th minute, but his shot failed to trouble Pawan Kumar. Only a couple of minutes later, Kim Song’s header off a corner went agonizingly wide. A few moments later, Rangdajied were again on the attack, and Dias’ pin-point cross was headed home by forward Lalnunpuia.
The goal seemed to deflate the Bengaluru side, and the visitors failed to create any significant chances for the next few minutes. Rangdajied, meanwhile, continued their attacking display, but failed to get past the Bengaluru goalkeeper until halftime.
The second half resumed with Bengaluru looking like a different side from the first half. The game opened up as both sides played with attacking intent. In the 58th minute, Kim Song’s long range effort went just over, as the scores remained at 2-0.
At the other end, meanwhile, Bengaluru skipper Sunil Chhetri made a brilliant finish from outside the box, reducing his team’s deficit by a goal. The visitors then equalized just a minute later courtesy of Sean Rooney, as the home fans were stunned into silence.
Rooney’s goal was responded by some brilliant attacking football by Rangdajied. The hosts’ relentless assaults at the Bengaluru goal paid dividends in the 76th minute when Ranti Martins scored off a rebound after Kim’s shot was parried away by Bengaluru’s Pawan.
The hosts slowed things down after the goal and didn’t allow the visitors to trouble them in the last few minutes. Ranti, meanwhile, almost doubled his goal tally for the club when his shot ricocheted off the goal post in the last minute of stoppage time.
The Blues held on for the last few seconds, ensuring that they picked up three precious league points against the league leading side. Despite the win, Rangdajied remain at the bottom of the table with 15 points from 17 games, and will next face United SC at home on 9th March.