Debutants Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC moved to third on the I-League points table following a thrilling 2-1 win at home over former champions Aizawl FC in Imphal on Saturday.
Premjit Singh and Krishnananda Singh scored for the hosts on either side of each half at the Khuman Lampak Stadium, in response to Rochharzela’s 22nd-minute strike to hand the city-based side three points.
Both coaches made two changes each from the XI which started their respective previous games. TRAU’s Cypriot gaffer Dimitris Dimitriou was forced to miss Phalguni Singh due to injury and played Premjit in place for good enough rewards later. However, his other change, Abhishek Das for Tomnoy Ghosh at right-back, gave him a little heartburn.
Stanley Rozario, the visitor’s coach played newly signed Argentine midfielder Matias Veron in place of Isak in midfield and Rochharzela replaced William Lalnunfela upfront.
It was a free-flowing encounter right from the starting whistle with both teams creating enough chances to score the opening goal.
The visitors struck first in the 22nd minute, when a long cross-field ball from the TRAU half by Ramhlunchhunga, found Rochharzela. The Aizawl midfielder calmly placed the ball away from Mithun Samanta in the TRAU goal and into the back of the net.
The home side hit back five minutes later through the talented winger Premjit Singh. Krishnanda, in one of his many breaks down the left flank, cut in and floated a ball across and outside the box, onto the path of Patrick Uche. The Nigerian’s mistimed shot found its way to an unmarked Premjit inside the box who made no mistake with two defenders converging and with just the keeper to beat.
The second half maintained the momentum of the first and after another set of missed chances by both sides, TRAU found the winner in the 66th thanks to another assist by Uche, this time properly intended and perfectly executed by the Nigerian. He spotted Krishnananda’s run from well inside his own half and delivered an inch-perfect aerial ball. Krishna met the ball before it could bounce in front of him and unleashed a left-footed volley which beat keeper Lalramhmunmawia at the near post. The keeper could have done better, but it was a snap-shot and dipping at the keeper in the end.
This was TRAU’s fourth win on the trot and sixth game unbeaten after their loss to East Bengal over a month ago. Former champions Aizawl continue a tough season, registering their second loss in eight games and with five draws and just one win to show, remain ninth out of 11 teams.
East Bengal bounce back with away win against defending champions Chennai City
East Bengal snapped a three-match losing streak, including a derby loss against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, as they beat defending champions Chennai City FC 2-0 to remain in I-League title contention in Coimbatore on Saturday.
Second-half goals by Spanish attackers Marcos Jimenez Espada and Jaimie Santos Colado at the Nehru Stadium brought home a well-deserved victory for the Kolkata giants.
East Bengal hardly put a foot wrong on the day with stand-in coach Bastab Roy setting the ball rolling with three changes that paid rich dividends in the game.
Mirshad got his first game of the season under the East Bengal bar and had a very good day in the office, while Asheer Akhtar, in the heart of the defence, built on the potential he had already shown earlier in the league.
Mizo winger Brandon Vanlalremdika also got a first start of the season and before he was replaced in the 66th minute should have had at least two goals to his name. Marti Crespi, Pintu Mahata and Lalthuammawia Ralte were the ones to miss out.
Chennai City head coach Akbar Nawas also made three changes to his starting eleven, bringing in young Swiss recruit Jan Mazangu, Pravitto Raju and Shem Marton on for Tarif Akhand, Ajith Kumar, and Srira.
The first chance of the game went to Chennai’s Spanish striker Adolfo ‘Fito’ Araujo, one of the three he would get in the entire game. While Chennai dominated possession in the first half, East Bengal clearly had far better chances to score, one of them a missed penalty by Colado after the ball was handled inside the box. Nauzet Santana brought off a first of many good saves in goal on the day.
At least on three other occasions in the half, East Bengal players found themselves one-on-one with the keeper but each time came up with newer ways to miss. Brandon missed a couple, one-off a wonderful Espada through ball on a counter with Santana again coming out brilliantly to thwart the diminutive Mizo.
Colado, in the 35th minute, inexplicably saw his lob sail over Santana and the crossbar and minutes later Juan Mera missed another golden opportunity to score for East Bengal.
The half ended goal-less but the Kolkata side were clearly in the ascendancy.
After resumption, Brandon hit the post again in the 58th minute, this time after curling one past Eslava from close range. That would be his last effort of the game as Liberian frontman Ansumanah Kromah replaced him.
East Bengal finally broke through in the 68th minute with Kromah having an immediate impact. He played Colado into the box on the right, and the Spaniard broke away towards the goal line and crossed for Espada to tap it in expertly from close. It was a typical poacher’s goal and Espada took his tally to five for the season.
The Red and Golds then got a second penalty, Jishnu Balakrishnan being adjudged to have brought Colado down in the box. East Bengal and Colado were not to be denied a second time and closed out on a much-needed victory. They now moved up to the fourth spot with 11 points from eight games while Chennai remain on eighth with eight points from seven matches.
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