It was a thrilling encounter that defied the predictions and the possession statistics as a spirited Aizawl FC carved out a stellar 2-1 victory over Sreenidi Deccan FC at the Deccan Arena on Tuesday, November 7. In the process, the Northeastern side claimed their first win of the 2023-24 I-League season. Sreenidi Deccan, who had been demolishing their opposition with an emphatic display of attacking prowess, scoring eight goals in two games, faced their first defeat despite entering the match as favourites.
Aizawl FC’s R Ramdinthara struck first, but the star of the show was Bawlte Rohmingthanga. The midfielder’s audacious and stunning goal from inside his half will most certainly be a season highlight. Sreenidi Deccan’s Pawan Kumar scored late before Aizawl finished with 10 men after Rohmingthanga’s second yellow.
The game was an example of tactical brilliance over sheer dominance, as Aizawl FC withstood a relentless 81% possession onslaught from Sreenidi Deccan, who unleashed a total of 17 shots on goal. Sreenidi Deccan’s offensive might was evident from their last two games, where they scored eight goals in total. Yet, Aizawl, who had stumbled against Mohammedan Sporting, showcased a disciplined and determined strategy to thwart Sreenidi Deccan’s attacks.
From the onset, Sreenidi Deccan deployed their tried and tested tactic of using the flanks to disperse their attacks, but Aizawl FC’s defensive ploy to compress space and disrupt Sreenidi Deccan’s rhythm with well-timed tackles paid off. Sreenidi Deccan’s early opportunity to gain the lead fizzled out with Eli Sabia’s off-target header, a forewarning of the afternoon’s narrative.
The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute when Aizawl’s R Ramdinthara capitalised on a meticulous pass from K Lalrinfela, puncturing the net with a right-footer that altered the match’s trajectory. The favourites, Sreenidi Deccan, had a golden opportunity to equalise just before the break with Rilwan Olanrewaju Hassan at the helm, but the forward’s effort was safely secured by Aizawl’s vigilant goalkeeper Lalmuanawma.
As the second half unfurled, Sreenidi Deccan’s urgency became palpable. They switched gears, making strategic changes to their line-up, attempting to breach Aizawl FC’s steadfast backline.
Yet, the night belonged to Aizawl, and particularly to Bawlte Rohmingthanga, who produced a moment of pure footballing magic in the added minutes of second half. His goal from midfield was not just a display of audacity and skill but also a testament to his situational awareness as he capitalised on the goalkeeper’s misplaced positioning. Rohmingthanga’s long-range lob from midfield sailed over Ubaid is bound to be etched in the annals of I-League highlights.
Despite the possession and offensive measures, Sreenidi Deccan found solace only in the waning moments of the match when Pawan Kumar’s head met a free-kick to salvage a goal. It served as a consolation in a game where Aizawl FC demonstrated that tactical acumen and resolute defence can triumph against a barrage of attacks.