Visitors Aizawl FC played their cards right as they managed to grind out a 1-0 victory over DSK Shivajians FC at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Saturday, concluding their enviable seven-match unbeaten streak in the Hero I-League. Joel Sunday’s goal in the 61st minute proved to cause the difference between the two sides, handing the winners a priceless opportunity of cementing their status in Indian football’s top flight.
On the back of a famous comeback against defending champions Mohun Bagan, DSK Shivajians’ coach Derrick Pereira stuck to the eleven he believed in, naming yet another unchanged lineup. The visitors, in a must-win situation, made a couple of changes to the side that was dispatched off by Salgaocar FC only five days prior to this game.
The hosts kicked off this encounter playing from left to right. The early set of chances fell to them, but their front men made a mess of the opportunities. Under-22 midfielder Surchandra Singh attempted a long-range effort, but his shot didn’t test Aizawl goalkeeper Soram Poirei.
Aizawl right-winger Albert Zohmingmawia was constantly on the back of DSK left-back Sena Ralte and got the better of the defensive stalwart more often than not.
It was a back to the walls job for the hosts as the Highlanders went all guns blazing in the quest for priceless three points that would help them remain in the Hero I-League.
Just minutes after the half hour mark, the captain for the visitors David Lalrinmuana blasted an attempt from 25 yards and his powerful strike flew inches wide of the left post.
Despite a number of half-chances, the first half provided very few clear cut chances as both teams went into the tunnel without affecting the scoreboard as it ended 0-0.
Come the second period, in the 49th minute, the home team had the most telling chance of the contest. Surchandra’s long range effort was mishandled by the Aizawl goalkeeper and the North-Eastern side almost paid the price but the ball came back off the post.
After a flurry of second-half chances, Aizawl FC finally broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Lalmuankima, plying his trade on the left flank, played in a sublime cross to the Nigerian striker Joel Sunday, and the talismanic striker made no mistake in heading the ball past Subrata Paul to give his side a crucial lead against a sturdy Shivajians’ defence.
The Shivajians resorted to playing all-out attack after going a goal down. Both their full-backs began to play further down the field, leaving the two centre-halves exposed at the back. In the 67th minute, Dipanda almost brought his side back on level terms, but his effort was well saved by Poirei. He made a diving save to his left and parried the ball away from the Shivajians’ players.
Amiri’s 74th-minute effort sent the fans into a state of euphoria as they thought their Afghani star had equalized, but in fact, his shot went off the side netting for a goal-kick.
A real roller coaster of emotions was witnessed at the Balewadi Sports Complex. A couple of minutes later Douhou Pierre had a chance of his own but was once again denied by the heroics of the opposition goalkeeper.
Six minutes of stoppage time didn’t prove to be enough for the home side, as they failed to garner a single shot on goal within the extra few minutes they were given. Aizawl put in an incredible shift to see off the attack from the Shivajians as they managed to hold on to a 1-0 victory. Following the win, Aizawl FC move up to the 6th spot on the table with 16 points from as many games while the hommies now drop to 7th.
by I-League Media