Real Kashmir spice up title race by beating Lajong 1-0
Shillong, Jan 19: Real Kashmir FC Saturday braced up for the title race after defeating Shillong Lajong FC 1:0 at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, which pushed the team to second position in the I-league table.
Real Kashmir, with this win, has earned 25 points.
The first half of the game ended goalless, with both the teams failing to convert multiple chances.
It was in the 75th minute that RKFC’s Zambian center-back Aaron Katebe got the all-important winner, propelling the ‘snow leopards’ to second rank on the points table, just five behind leaders Chennai after both have played 13 games each.
Both managers David Robertson and Alison Kharyntiew had made two changes and both coincidentally in the midfield positions.
Kashmir started Khalid Qayoom and Nagen Tamang in place of Farhan Ganie and Danish Farooq while Shillong rested leader of the pack Samuel Lalmuanpia and Sheen Stevenson, bringing in Hnamte and Phrangki Buam in their place.
Honours were even in the first half with Shillong dominating possession as also having the best looks at goal. Samuel Lyngdoh’s volley as early as in the fifth minute sailed over the goal.
The young hosts were not able to convert any of their interesting moves however and were made to pay for their discretion in the second half.
Just after David Robertson effected a double substitution in the second half, bringing in Gnohere Krizo and Danish Farooq for Koffi Tetteh and Qayoom, Kashmir went ahead from a set piece.
Later, Vicky Meetei was also brought in to strengthen the attacking department of the team.
Surchandra Singh floated the ball across the goal away from the far post from a corner, to which Loveday Okechukwu rose the tallest to direct a header back towards the centre of the goal. Zambian Katebe, Loveday’s partner at centre-back, was lurking around and slotted his header into the Shillong net.
Kashmir took control of proceedings from there on and Mason Roberston took a thunderous shot on the turn from the top of the box in the 81st minute, which hit the upright after it was brilliantly palmed away by keeper Lachempa.
Robertson then missed another couple of clear chances and in the end, Kashmir had to be satisfied with the 1-0 score line.
For Shillong, the only consolation was the Hero of the Match award bagged by keeper Phurba Lachempa for his vital contributions, without which the score line would have been different.
RKFC head coach, David Robertson said the game was “immensely” difficult for his team.
“The game was very tough as Shillong Lajong FC showed much possession in the first half. Our players missed many chances but at the end managed to get three points out of the game,” he said.
“We have to focus on the upcoming games now, in which we are going to face experienced sides again at the home turf,” he said.