AIFF Media Team
SHILLONG: A spectacular end to an intriguing competition as Shillong Lajong FC crowned champions of the 2017/18 U-18 Youth League beating Kerala Blasters 2-0 in the final played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Saturday (May 26, 2018).
A 3rd-minute own goal by Lins P. Poulose and Kynsailang Khongsit’s second-half stoppage time strike proved to be enough for Lajong to clinch the U-18 Youth League title in their own backyard.
Lajong, enjoying a good support in the stands, were on fire from the word go as they took the lead as early as the 3rd minute following a school-boyish error from Kerala defender Lins Poulose who put the ball into his own net while trying to clear Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi’s free-kick.
The Junior Reds then took control of the match. The home side probably should have scored a couple more goals before the break, but their finishing let them down.
Lajong looked dangerous every time they pushed forward and Donboklang Lyngdoh tried to curl the ball into the top corner, but Kerala goalkeeper Ayush Das produced a fine save to deny the attacker in the 19th minute.
Kerala continued to commit defensive mistakes and they were almost punished just past the half-hour mark by Parvaj Bhuiya, who pounced on to Phrangki Buam’s back pass before placing his effort wide of the target.
Meanwhile, Kerala, who looked lacklustre for much of the first-half, tried to find their way back into the game but the Lajong defence which was marshalled by Khongsit looked solid and impenetrable.
Kerala then contained the rampant Lajong until the referee Harish Kundu blew the half-time whistle and the score was 1-0 to the home side.
After the restart, Kerala tightened up defensively and started to see more of the ball and Abdullah KS was able to force Lajong custodian Neithovilie Chalieu into a great save with a long-range shot in the 53rd minute.
However, Kerala were still making errors in the middle as Parvaj picked up a lose ball from midfield and sent Donboklang through on goal but the latter’s effort narrowly missed the target.
Kerala pushed hard for an equalizer in the later stage of the game but it really wasn’t their day, none more so than when Adarsh AS hit the post in the 78th minute with Chalieu well-beaten.
While Kerala pressed high up looking for the parity, Lajong managed to double their lead in stoppage time through Khongsit, who placed himself perfectly for a shot in the box and scored a wonderful goal to put the result beyond questions.