Shillong, Dec 6: Shillong Lajong beat Churchill Brothers 2-0 in their I-League 2023-24 game here at the SSA Stadium on Wednesday.
The win takes Shillong to third on the table, below Sreenidi Deccan on goal difference, Churchill meanwhile remain rooted to the bottom half of the table just above the relegation zone.
In the first half, Shillong Lajong’s right flank was riotous, creating chances aplenty and causing Churchill headaches on every attack. Pursunep in particular was exemplary, his speed, and perfect crossing technique let down just as equally by striker Abdou Karim Samb’s profligacy in front of goal.
Samb was guilty of the easiest of misses early in the game, heading Kynsailang Khongsit’s brilliant cross straight at Subashish Roy Chowdhury in the Churchill goal from six yards. The keeper did well to hold his line, but if the header had been marginally to either side the home would’ve led right then.
It was ironic then that Samb played a huge role in Shillong’s opener when it arrived right at the edge of halftime. It was another Pursunep cross that started it, this one more a low-fizzing one that Samb tried to meet first time from the penalty mark. He miscued his kick and the ball looped upwards, into no man’s air, no defenders nor goalkeeper committing to push it away.
Laiwang Bohham met it five yards from goal and kicked it in. Churchill protested, insisting the ball had hit Samb’s hand, but the referee was not convinced. The home side had a deserved lead.
Lajong did not let go of the pressure they had Churchill under in the second half, and six minutes in doubled their lead with a calmly taken Renan Paulino penalty. In a sequence of serious indiscipline, Churchill’s Rahul Raju brought down Bohham illegally inside the box, just after Pursunep had been brought down similarly.
If there is one thing the home side were guilty of, it was their inability to extend the lead, Samb in particular missing enough clear chances to have taken a double hat trick of sorts.
It didn’t matter as Lajong wrapped up a comfortable three points, and also picked up their first clean sheet of the season.