Shillong: Real Kashmir FC beat bottom-placed Shillong Lajong by a solitary goal to remain in the hunt for the I-League title in their debut season in Shillong on Saturday.
Zambian centre-back Aaron Katebe scored the all-important goal in the 74th minute, propelling the 'Snow Leopards' to second place on the league table with 25 points — five adrift of leaders Chennai City FC -- from 13 games.
The visiting coach David Robertson and his Lajong counterpart Alison Kharyntiew made two changes and both coincidentally in the midfield positions.
Real Kashmir started Khalid Qayoom and Nagen Tamang in place of Farhan Ganie and Danish Farooq while Lajong rested Samuel Lalmuanpia and Sheen Stevenson, bringing in Hnamte and Phrangki Buam in their place.
Honours were even in the first half though Lajong dominated possession as also having the best look at the opposition goal. Samuel Lyngdoh's volley as early as in the fifth minute sailed over the bar.
The young home side were, however, not able to convert any of their chances and were made to pay for their discretion in the second half.
Robertson effected a double substitution in the second half, bringing in Gnohere Krizo and Danish Farooq for Koffi Tetteh and Qayoom and Real Kashmir took the lead from a set-piece.
Surchandra Singh floated the ball across the goal away from the far post from a corner to which Loveday Okechukwu rose the tallest to direct a header back towards the centre of the goal. Zambian Katebe, Loveday's partner at centre-back, was lurking around and he buried the ball into the Lajong net with a strong header.
The Srinagar-based side then took control of the proceedings and Mason Roberston took a thunderous shot on the turn from the top of the box in the 81st minute, which hit the upright after it was brilliantly palmed away by keeper Lachempa.
Mason, son of coach David Robertson, missed another couple of clear chances and in the end, Kashmir had to be satisfied with the 1-0 scoreline.
For Lajong, the only consolation was that the Hero of the Match award was given to their keeper Phurba Lachempa for his vital saves, without which the victory margin could have been much bigger.
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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2019 22:25:17 IST