Hosts pip league leaders 3-2

Royals end Mohun Bagan’s unbeaten streak

Royal Wahingdoh FC (Yellow) and Mohun Bagan FC players in action during their Hero I- League soccer match at JN Stadiam, Polo on Sunday. (ST)

SHILLONG: Royal Wahingdoh FC broke the unbeaten run of league leaders McDowell Mohun Bagan with a thrilling 3-2 win over the visitors at the JN Stadium here on Saturday.
The Royals also announced their title ambition with a force stronger than ever by posting the win over the mighty Bagan.
Naoba Singh’s superb strike from 25 yards in the last minute decided the game in favour of the hosts who rallied back twice to tame the table-toppers.
Post the win the Royals are sitting pretty at the second spot in the standings with 26 points from 15 games, while Bagan are still at the top with 28 points from 13 games.
While Balwant Singh gave the visitors the breakthrough in the 8th minute, the hosts struck back through Jackichand Singh in the 60th minute. Sony Norde’s brilliance ensured  the Mariners went into the lead for the second time in the 80th minute. However, Densill Theobald converted an 86th minute penalty to restore parity yet again for the hosts. But it was Naoba Singh who hit the final nail in the coffin for the Mariners striking as late as the 90th minute to take his side home.
Earlier, the Royals saw a couple of chances go begging within the first five minutes of play and eventually found themselves trailing as early as the 8th minute when Bagan scored against the run of play.
The hosts created two good chances within the first four minutes with Jackichand Singh in the thick of action on both occasions. In the third minute Densill spotted Jacki at the front from the centre and the Manipuri striker raced forward and tapped the ball to Kim Song Yong whose effort went just wide of the nets. In the next minute Jackichand was found guilty of hitting the side of the nets when a well placed ball found him on the left of the box.
In the 8th minute, Balwant was spotted by a Denson Devadas long ball on the right. The Bagan No. 15 then took advantage of a defensive lapse to convert as the defenders were found out of place inside the circle. With just the advancing goalie to beat, Balwant made no mistake to hit the far left corner of the nets.
Mohun Bagan almost doubled the lead in the 15th minute but the Katsumi Yusa strike at the nets was disallowed for being off side.
Though Bagan had taken the lead, the hosts were relentless in their efforts and created a flurry of chances post the half hour mark.
The hosts came close to scoring when a brilliant free kick by Lalmangaihsanga was deflected by Debjit Mazumdar only to place it around a lurking Jackichand. The RWFC No. 10 was, however, two steps too many in the front to convert of the rebound in the 36th minute.
Barely four minutes later, a firm Bekay Bawar shot at the net was saved brilliantly by a diving Debjit.
The teams went into the break with Bagan retaining their one-goal lead.
Crossing over, Bagan were frequently pushed back and the hosts’ resilience was finally rewarded at the stroke of the hour when Jackichand struck to equalize.
Jackichand seized on a brilliant pass-back to him from Bekay Bawar, who was first to a Naoba Singh cross. Jacki’s right foot smack hit the back of the net sending the crowd into raptures.
Just when the game seemed to be heading for a draw, Bagan’s Sony Node struck from almost nowhere in the 80th minute. The dangerous striker was left unmarked on the left and breezed forward from the centre to eventually curl in a right footer to beat the hapless Nikhil Bernard.
However, parity was soon restored.   In the 86th minute a silly handball by Balwant, who later protested his innocence, saw Wahingdoh get a penalty which was converted by Theobald to put the match on level terms again.
Balwant, meanwhile, was shown a red card for charging at the referee a couple of minutes later. Bagan, thus were down to 10-men and the hosts made full use of the situation to score the equaliser in the 90th minute.
A smashing drive from almost 25 yards by Naoba Singh saw Debjit being reduced to a mere spectator as the Royals won on the night.
Elated with the victory, RWFC coach Santosh Kashyap was all praise for his boys who came back from behind on two occasions to claim full three points from the tie.
Kashyap said that he thoroughly relished the win over the table-toppers who are usually outstanding in all fronts. “We are serious contenders for the title,” he reiterated.