Shillong: Debutants Neroca FC registered their maiden North-eastern derby win of the season, defeating Shillong Lajong 1-0 in a closely fought encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
Lajong will however feel guilty of squandering some easy chances, with Al-Hagri hitting the post twice in two minutes, cutting off a rather frustrating day in office.
They were made to rue for the missed chances in the 83rd minute when young striker Singam Subhash Singh got away from the Lajong defence unmarked, to head a Pritam Singh cross into the net, securing what was a vital away victory for the ‘Men in Orange.’
High on confidence after defeating defending champions Aizwal in their own hut, Lajong controlled the proceedings tasting Neroca custodian Lalit Thapa as early as the 16th minute. Nonetheless they could have gone ahead 11 minutes later, when Samuel Lalmuanpuia send Al-Hagri clear on goal with a perfect-inch through ball, only for the Yemeni footballer to shoot wide of the target.
Similar chances went bagging for the home team with Neroca’s only chance coming from a corner that was well saved by Lajong goalie Phurba Lachenpa, as both sides went into the break goalless.
Neroca striker Felix Chidi breathed fire as play resumed occasionally threatening Lajong defence with powerful bursts.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia on the other side nearly scored one with a bullet that missed the goal by a whisker. Al-Hagri, guilty of missing some easy opportunities earlier once again came close but struck the upright twice in two minutes.
He deceived a defender to rifle a shot that returned from the woodwork for the first, while his header came off the bar for the second much to the dismay of the home fans. They were however left crushing their luck as Subhash Singh ran away with a clever goal in the 83rd minute.
Courtesy the win, Neroca moved up to third in the table with 10 points from five matches, while Lajong remained fourth with the same number of points from six matches.