I-League: Indian Arrows returns to winning ways on home turf

Four minutes from time, Nongdamba Naorem staked his claim to one of the most impressive goals this season of the Hero I-League.

It was an attacking Arrows side that took control early.   -  AIFF

Four minutes from time, Nongdamba Naorem staked his claim to one of the most impressive goals this season of the Hero I-League.

Receiving the ball on the left, the diminutive Naorem dribbled and dodged past five defenders, all stronger and taller than him, cut through to the front of the goal and shot past a kneeling goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa for Indian Arrows's second goal of the match against a ten-man Shillong Lajong FC at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday.

The Arrows won 3-0 after three consecutive defeats, the team of Indian juniors dominating all through. The battle between two of the youngest sides in the fray was rendered a largely one-sided affair. “They understood our plan in the first 15 minutes. First half we were completely outplayed, it was a new, revived Arrows and I was actually pleased to them in the first half, they played with a good plan and total maturity,” Shillong coach Bobby Nongbet complimented after the match.

SLFC only had a handful of shots at the target, none closer than Aimen Saleh's rasping shot in the 88th minute that went straight to Arrows custodian Dheeraj Singh. Kynsailang Khongsit shot over the net in the 77th minute in the only other half chance for the visitor.

It was an attacking Arrows side that took control early.

Ninthoingganba Meetei narrowly missed after being put through by Jeakson Singh in the eighth minute and Ashish Rai's through ball to Abhijit Sarkar was saved by Lachenpa, the busiest SLFC player on the day.

The incessant pressing, however, finally paid off when Jitender Singh tapped in from near the left post after Sanjeev Stalin's cross was put through by Rahim Ali three minutes later. That defenders Stalin and Jitender were playing so upfront for a large part of the game was proof of how much SLFC was pushed to the back by its opponent. It also showed the players' commitment as the defenders also ensured there was no space for SLFC to try and sneak close to the goal at any point.

Rahim was instrumental again with his pass as Rahul Balan, coming on only in the 82nd minute, shot from the edge of the penalty box to round-off the Arrows’ impressive win. A red card in the 60th minute to Lalrohlua for his challenge on Meetei, on the hand, completed SLFC’s terrible outing.

The result: India Arrows 3 (Jitender Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Rahul Balan) bt Shillong Lajong FC 0.

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