Minerva Punjab sensationally overcame a thunderous Shillong Lajong second-half comeback to take all 3 points eventually from their first home game at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Chandigarh today (February 7, 2018).
Minerva started attacking heavily in the opening few minutes of the match and they were rewarded with a goal in the 5th minute. It came as an outcome of Sukhdev’s long throw-in which came rumbling down to Dano after multiple deflections and flicks. Dano volleyed it with utmost precision to finish in the top right corner of the net giving no chance to the keeper.
Shillong Lajong nearly conceded an own goal from another long throw in the 24th minute. Defense line of Minerva was really strong with Sukhdev and Dano’s rock solid partnership held Shillong’s attack comfortably.
Gagandeep set up Chencho in the 14th minute for a simple finish but he couldn’t sort his feet quickly and couldn’t hit the target from 6 yards out. William struck a rocket from 35 yards out in 28th-minute troubling Lajong keeper Phurba in the process who somehow managed to keep the shot out.
Minerva struck another one through Gagandeep Bali just seconds before halftime after setting off Chencho on the run down the right flank and meeting his low cross at the end of a great supporting run.
The first half ended with a scoreline of 2-0 in favour of the home side.
Shillong Lajong made a half-time substitution as Alen Deory joined the fray at the expense of Lalrohlua which made an instant impact for them. Lajong struck two back to back goals in a span of 3 minutes to put in life in the match.
A tad scuffle in the box followed by multiple clearance attempts gave Odafin a chance to take a shot at the loose ball from outside the box and he has found the elusive goal on the hour-mark.
Three minutes later, Laurence Doe stunned the noisy Minerva supporters having scored the equaliser. As he was completely left unmarked, he had all the time and space to head it past a leaping Dagar to help his team equalise.
Minerva’s new signing Bazie Armand tried his luck to get back Minerva’s lead but his shot took a deflection for a corner kick.
Gagandeep Bali finally restored Minerva’s lead in the 80th minute after a confusion among Shillong defenders leaving Gagandeep unmarked just outside the box.
Shillong kept bombarding Minerva’s defence with further attacks almost scoring the equalizer in injury time but William’s goal-line clearance secured all three points for Minerva Punjab FC.
With this win, Minerva have dethroned Neroca FC at the top with 29 points from 13 matches whereas the Manipur-based outfit have amassed 27 points playing one match extra.