Debutants Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) of Manipur registered a comfortable 2-0 victory over All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows in their I-League match here on Sunday.
Naocha Singh scored in the 44th minute before Princewill Emeka made it 2-0 in the 79th minute.
Arrows head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh made a couple of changes to his previous line-up, with Aman Chetri replacing Harpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh taking Manvir Singh’s place up front, signalling a switch to 3-4-3.
Dimitris Dimitriou made a solitary change, seemingly happy with his newfound cohesion in his TRAU side. Sandeep Singh was named to start at the back, at the expense of Deepak Devrani.
Fresh from their victory in the Imphal derby against NEROCA, it was TRAU who started pressing hard from the get-go, piling on the pressure and not allowing Indian Arrows to retain possession for long.
In the fifth minute, Emeka received the ball on the edge of the box, made a beautiful turn that completely took his marker Bikash Yumnam out of the equation but his effort was saved Lalbiakhlua Jongte at the Arrows goal.
TRAU kept pressing hard and forcing errors out of the home side. Emeka remained a constant threat, running circles around the Arrows defence and in the 12th minute, forced Bikash Yumnam into losing possession to him inside the box, which allowed him a crack on goal, but his shot went straight at Jongte.
It was Krishnananda Singh, in the 18th minute, when he dispossessed Akash Mishra on the edge of the six-yard box and fed the ball to Emeka with a back-flick. The Nigerian forward did well to get his shot away on the turn, and with his effort was kept out by yet another fabulous save from Jongte.
TRAU’s persistence paid off going into the break. In the 44th minute, Wahengbam Luwang’s corner was met by Naocha Singh inside the box, and with a flurry of blue and white shirts in the box, got just the right touch to take it past the keeper to give the visitors a well-deserved lead at half-time.
Dimitris Dimitriou’s men came out all guns blazing in the second half, picking up the same tempo which they had left off. Arrows skipper Vikram Partap Singh, who had enjoyed a startling start to the season, found himself isolated for large parts, not seeing enough of the ball to spark a catalyst for the comeback.
In the 64th minute, a throw-in from Abhishek Das into the box was well-received by Emeka and with the angle not in his favour, he tried an audacious chip over the keeper but Jongte was alert to avert the danger.
TRAU doubled their lead in the 79th minute, when a beautifully weighted pass by Phalguni Singh was received by Emeka on the turn and with a delicate first touch, took it beyond his marker and fired it home through the legs of Jongte to wheel away in celebration.
Indian Arrows remain rooted to the bottom of the I-League standings, while TRAU climb to sixth in the table, with eight points from seven matches.