I-League 2017 Late goal from Ronald Singh hands win to debutant NEROCA

IMPHAL, Dec 15: NEROCA FC emerged victorious when they took on Chennai City FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Friday, courtesy a late winner from Ronald Singh.NEROCA started with the same line up which handed them three points against Gokulam Kerala FC. Felix Chidi was their target man in attack supported by Pritam Singh and Gopi Singh. Jean Fabien played as a defensive screen in front of the back four of Tondonba, Varney Kallon, Govin Singh and Saran Singh. Captain and goal-keeper Lalit Thapa retained his place under the sticks.Whereas V Soundararajan also maintained his starting XI with Slovenian goal keeper Uros Poljanec retaining his place under the sticks even after that gifting Minerva their equalizer in the last game. France international Jean Joachim led the attack along with skipper Soosai Raj and Murilo Almeida.NEROCA started the game with pace and intention but Chennai City slowly started to claw their way back. Skipper Soosai raj was leading his team from the front with some delightful footwork in the attacking third but was unable to find that perfect final ball in the opening minutes. V Soundararajan’s men had the chance to go ahead when Govin Singh gifted a penalty to the southern outfit on the 18th minute. But Brazilian Murilo Almeida’s tame and casual effort was saved by skipper Lalit Thapa by diving to his left. The men in Orange did not fail to make their chance count from a corner delivered by Thangjam Singh. Kallon Kiatamba pierced the back of the net after a mishit shot by Govin Singh fell for him inside the six yard box. CCFC continued to pile pressure on NEROCA’s defense and managed to win multiple corners as they surged forward with the ball. But lack of quality in the deliveries, did not help their cause. They took 13 shots in the first half but manged to keep only two on target. NEROCA got another chance to double their lead just at the stroke of half-time when Saran Singh’s delivery from the right flank met with the head of Kallon, but the header sailed inches over the cross-bar. NEROCA did not rest on their laurels and showed clear intentions of finding that insurance goal right from the start of second half.Soundararajan brought on Mashoor replacing Charles Anandraj, who went on to be the live-wire for Chennai in the second half. But after the initial starting minutes of the second half, Chennai started to take control.On the 64th minute they found an equalizer through Joachim’s powerful volley from inside the box after being fed by skipper Soosairaj. The French international had a delightful first touch and then half tuned before triggering a shot that would leave Thapa with no answer. RaiKhan was in no mood to settle for a point and he brought on his attacking aces Sushil Kumar Singh and Ronald Singh. In the last 10 minutes both the teams were looking for the winner which left open spaces at the back. It all started from a corner, which got feebly punched by Polijanec. The ball  fell for Glen Williams who sent it back, and a perfectly timed run by Ronald Singh helped him avoid the offside before pulling the trigger. Polijanec got a touch to it, but it had enough power to trickle into the net.With this win, NEROCA jump to the fourth spot, leap frogging Kolkata giants East Bengal, with six points from their first two fixtures. Soundararajan has a lot of work to do with his team as they currently sit ninth in the league table with just a solitary point in hand.NEROCA will next travel to Kolkata to face Mohun Bagan, whereas Chennai City will go to Goa with the hope of clinching three points against Churchill Brothers. Goal.com

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