I-League: Ajay Chhetri’s strike helps RoundGlass Punjab FC beat NEROCA FC 1-0

I-League: Ajay Chhetri’s strike helps RoundGlass Punjab FC beat NEROCA FC 1-0

Imphal (Manipur) [India]February 21 (ANI): I-League title contenders RoundGlass Punjab FC picked up three more vital points, beating NEROCA FC 1-0 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal.

RoundGlass Punjab are back on 40 points with Sreenidi Deccan, who currently hold the top spot thanks to their superior head-to-head record over Staikos Vergeti’s side.

It was a display identical to their performance last week against Aizawl, where they also narrowly won 1-0. Goalkeeper Kiran Limbu took home the Man of the Match award on both occasions.

On Monday, midfielder Ajay Chhetri led the North Indians to a first-half lead. Although NEROCA responded strongly in the second period, the visitors defended well and ended the Orange Brigade’s run of four straight home wins.

RoundGlass Punjab were in from the start and Chencho Gyeltshen even headed the ball into the back of the net in the second minute, but the Bhutanese were ruled offside. Minutes later, Punjab captain and top scorer Luka Majcen saw his effort comfortably saved by home keeper Soram Poirei after a loose clearance by Likmabam Rakesh Meitei.

In the 19th minute, a Juan Mera free kick from the right flashed wide of the goal as Majcen and Ajay Chhetri, the two closest to the ball, failed to connect.

NEROCA, operating largely along the wings, had their chances as well. Sweden Fernandes was unlucky not to open the scoring for the hosts as his powerful strike from 25 meters out came off the crossbar.

After half an hour Jourdaine Fletcher took a stinging free kick from the right which was safely palmed away by Kiran Limbu. But four minutes later, slightly against the run of play, RoundGlass Punjab broke the deadlock. It was a move that was started and ended by Chhetri.

The 23-year-old won possession in the final third and passed the ball to Majcen, who then fed it to Brandon Vanlalremdika on the right wing. The winger sent a looping cross for Chhetri at the far post, who timed his jump to perfection and headed home to make it 1-0.

In the first half, Fletcher almost equalized for NEROCA but was denied by another fine save from Limbu. Early in the second half, NEROCA attacking duo Fletcher and Fernandes were at it again. The Jamaican’s shot from the edge of the penalty area went a whisker wide of the target before Fernandes’ free-kick from the edge of the penalty area was met by another Limbu save.

It was all NEROCA in the second half as they looked as desperate as ever for the equaliser. In the 65th minute, Fernandes had another chance to score, but could not keep his header on target. RoundGlass Punjab’s only chance of the half came in the 81st minute, when Poirei saved a long shot from Gyeltshen to keep NEROCA in the game.

Fletcher had two half chances for the Orange Brigade in the dying minutes of the contest. First he headed a free-kick before seeing his audacious effort from 30 yards collected by Limbu. (ANI)

Source: sn.dk




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