Developed By: iNFOTYKE
SHILLONG: Royal Wahingdoh FC made a dream start to their maiden I-League campaign beating local giants Shillong Lajong FC 2-1 in the first Hero I-League match of the season at the JN Stadium here on Sunday.
Bekay Bawar and Seityasen Singh were the stars of the day for the Santosh Kashyap-led Royal Wahingdoh who thoroughly entertained the sizeable crowd which turned up to witness the first derby of the season braving the cold and rain.
The Reds started the match with no foreign player in their starting XI as Lajong’s top scorer last season and only foreigner in their first 18, Cornell Glen, was kept on the bench.
This also meant that the all Indian starting lineup would be without their two experienced defenders, Minchol Son and captain Aiborlang Khongjee as the latter is nursing an injury.
Looking to dominate the game from the word go, the Royals suffered a jolt in the 15th minute when Boithang Haokip free kick nicked the head of Wahingdoh defender Lalchhawnkima to find the nets.
The goal could not have come at a better time for ‘less-experienced’ Lajong side, but their persistent local rivals refused to be bogged-down by the lead and carried out a number of raids in the opposition half.
The best chance for Wahingdoh came in the 20th minute when an advancing Jackichand was fed by Seityasen from the right.
A sliding Jacki made a mess of the cross and hit it way over the bar.
Few minutes later, Royal skipper Densill Theobald spotted rival goalie Rehenesh TP at the front and fired one in from the right. Rehenesh was quick to react and pedalled back to pull it over for a corner.
Three minutes later, Rehenesh was in the thick of action again and made a brilliant save to deny a long range shot of a set piece by Densill.
Just when it looked that Lajong would go into the break sitting on a one-goal lead, Liberian Bekay struck almost from nowhere in the 43rd minute.
Capitalising on a Lajong miss pass, Bekay took possession and rocketed one into the back of the nets from long range.
Such was the brilliance of the strike that an alert Rehenesh could do nothing to deny the equalizer.
Merely three minutes after the break, the brilliance of Jacki and Seitya made it 2-1 for the debutants.
Racing from the right, Jacki cut the ball brilliantly to find Seitya who tapped it into the nets with a bit of luck as the ball hit the crossbar before crossing the line.
Sensing the urgent need to push things back in their favour, Lajong coach Thangboi Singto made a double change in the 59th minute bringing in Cornell Glen, the only foreigner in the lineup, and Durga Boro.
Meanwhile, the duo of Jacki and Seitya, supported by Densill and Bekay in the midfield, continued to exert pressure on the Lajong defence, which had three youngsters in its ranks.
Glen, left unmarked outside the box, had a good chance to convert in the 63rd minute but the Trinidad international hit one wide on the left to squander the opportunity.
With all its inexperience, Lajong could have still secured a point from the match if not for a Seiminlen Doungel mishit. Glen fed Doungel with a superb reverse through-ball with just the keeper to beat.
The No. 10 tried a deft chip which had the keeper beaten from about 8 yards out, but the attempt went just wide of the right-post to his dismay.
Wahingdoh custodian Nikhil Bernard, who was also in the thick of action in the second half, made a couple of brilliant saves and held steady to see his side through to a historic win.
A visibly elated Wahingdoh coach Santosh Kashyap said “the boys played as per the plan.”
“Great comeback, we played as per the plan…I was confident that this is our match,” he said after the match here.
Kashyap was also all praise for Jacki and Seitya for their good show.
Meanwhile, Lajong coach Thangboi Singto said that the team would deliver better once the foreigners join the squad.
He also praised the youngsters for whom “the match was a good learning experience.”