Ludhiana: Chencho Gyeltshen struck late into the game as Minerva Punjab beat an inexperienced Indian Arrows by a solitary goal to extended their lead at the top of the table in the I-League.
The defeat is Arrows' second against Minerva this season having lost 0-2 against the same opponents a few weeks ago in Goa.
Gyeltshen's 80th minute strike turned out to be the difference between the two sides in the hard-fought battle at the Guru Nanak Stadium.
Khogen Singh made three changes from their 2-1 win over Chennai City FC. Rakshit Dagar made his way into the lineup for Arshdeep Saini in goal. Sukhdev Singh and Amandeep Singh also came in as Lago Bei was relegated to the bench.
After a break of 13 days, Arrows' coach Luis Norton de Matos made two alterations to his side.
Abhijit Sarkar and Aniket Anil Jadhav were relegated to the bench, while West Bengal duo Rahim Ali and Abhishek Halder were ushered into the first eleven.
The Portuguese chose to go with four men at the back. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem had a backline of Boris Singh Thangjam, Deepak Tangri, Jitendra Singh and Sanjeev Stalin lining up in front of him.
Suresh Singh Wangjam, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Halder played in a tight-knit three-man midfield.
On-loan from Bengaluru FC, striker Edmund Lalrindika was deployed centrally and he had Rahul Kannoly Praveen and Rahim Ali offering him support from the flanks.
While Minerva Punjab had the lion's share of possession in the first half, the team of assembled Indian teenagers did appear a spirited lot by keeping the early danger in check.
Girik Mahesh Khosla and William Opoku kept on piling the pressure but neither of them were able to find the back of the net.
It was Ivorian defender Guy Eric Dano who caused the first real trouble when his volleyed attempt hit the upright.
In a see-saw second half where the Arrows had far better possession, the teenagers were just not able to break the robust Minerva backline but Rahul Kannoly had one attempt to lob in the opener from a through ball but goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar came off with a brilliant sliding clearance.
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Updated Date: Dec 18, 2017 23:55 PM