By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team
Salgaocar FC 2 (Bikash Jairu – 58th, Gurjinder Kumar – 64th)
Shillong Lajong 1 (Jacob Lalrawngbawia – 90+2)
VASCO: Salgaocar proved ‘two’ hot to handle for a young Shillong Lajong side with no foreigners registered as they won 2-1 in a Group B Hero Federation Cup encounter here at the Tilak Maidan on Wednesday (December 31, 2014).
As much flattering the scoreline might look, it was one-way traffic for most parts of the game which saw All India Football Federation (AIFF) Elite Academy graduate Vishal Kaith perform admirably between the sticks for Lajong in the first half only to fall short post the break to goals from an excellent Bikash Jairu and Gurjinder Kumar.
Salgaocar defender Pritam Kumar – another AIFF graduate – hit the woodwork quite ominously before Salgaocar took the lead in the second period. Substitute Jacob Lalrawngbawia halved the margin for Shillong deep into second half stoppage time.
But Vishal was the standout performer as only one clear cut chance befell them throughout the 90 minutes.
The AIFF Academy product was tested thrice in the first half and had it not been for his fine saves, the Shillong side would be going into the break licking their wounds.
The onslaught started as early as in the seventh minute when Douhou’s dipping long-range effort was tipped over by Vishal. Gurjinder headed wide from the resultant corner.
Six minutes later the Shimla born 19-year old –first choice keeper in Colm Toal’s India U-19 Team which took part in the AFC U-19 Championships in Qatar last year – was called into action again saving low from Duffy’s powerful drive.
The local outfit were all over the Highlanders and the all-Indian brigade – the only team in the competition to do so – found it difficult to stem the tide of attacks.
Jairu won the ball in midfield and darted into the box to force a near-post save from Vishal.
The loose ball was then picked up by Gilbert who relayed it to Jairu who in turn found Duffy in the box but the Scottish striker who was the topscorer in last season’s I-League failed to do enough after receiving the ball beautifully on the chest.
It didn’t get any better for Thangboi Singto as their main striker Durga Boro picked up a knock and had to be replaced by last match’s goalscorer Lalrammuana in the 25th minute.
For once Vishal was not making a save as from the next, Gilbert Oliviera dragged a volley wide off Jairu’s floater. In the very next minute, Thangjam Singh’s cross-shot from the edge of the box was inches over landing on the roof of the net.
Vishal capped an excellent first half with his best save of the period, spreading his body like a starfish to deny Gilbert’s swerving effort out with the half coming to a close.
Singto made a couple of changes after the break bringing on Redeem Tlang and Samuel Shadap. But for all their attacks in the first half, the green shirts took the lead through their best player of the match Jairu. Making the most of a pinpoint layoff from Duffy, the 32-year old slotted home at the far post with an advancing Vishal finally breached.
Salgaocar pulled away in between a superb save from India’s no.1 Subrata Paul who denied Shadap with a fine low save. This time Thangjam’s corner found Gurjinder who leapt highest to nod in. Earlier Pawan Kumar had hit the crosspiece from a similar Thangjam flag kick.
Courtesy the result, Lajong now face an uphill task with two losses from as many games while Salgaocar would breathe a sigh of relief after the loss to Bengaluru FC in the Fed Cup opener.
Posted on : Wednesday December 31, 2014