NEROCA FC snatched a solid 1-0 win against Indian Arrows in Hero I-League 2021/22 match at Naihati Stadium on Monday. Indian Arrows showcased attacking intent throughout the full 90 minutes, troubling NEROCA FC’s skilful defense on multiple occasions. With the absence of Juan Mera and Sergi Mendigutxia, NEROCA’s attacking forces left a lot to be desired. But the unfortunate own goal from Brijesh Giri (73′) cost Indian Arrows and NEROCA FC managed to steal three points.
The match started with Indian Arrows keeping possession and searching for long balls from their own half. The game remained constrained to the middle of the ground in the early minutes. In the 6th minute, a counter-attacking move allowed Suhail Ahmad Bhat to make a dangerous cross inside the box, but he could not find his man.
A couple of minutes later, Thokchom James Singh made a critical save with Velanco Rodrigues breaking away with a chance. In the 12th minute, Parthib Gogoi troubled the NEROCA defence with his dribbling skills, and passed the ball to Vibin Mohanan in front of the goal. But Prateek Singh made a reflexive save to deny Indian Arrows. Prateek made another vital save a couple of minutes later as he denied Parthib Gogoi who broke free for another one-on-one chance.
In the 22nd minute, Lalchhanhima Sailo returned to the corner duties and provided a neat cross for Sajad Hussain Parray inside the box. But the shot from Indian Arrows skipper went wide off the mark and another opportunity to take the lead was missed. A couple of minutes later Abdul Samad sent in a dangerous lobbed passed inside the box for Mohamad Kdouh, but the NEROCA forward was caught offside.
In the 35th minute, NEROCA FC started getting their feet more on the ball, and Khaiminthang Lhungdim took a shot on target. But Tankadhar Bag stood tall and strong in front of the ball, clearing away the moment of danger. A couple of minutes later, Khaiminthang put the ball inside the back of nets, but the referee blew his whistle for a foul committed in the lead-up and the goal was disallowed.
In the 42nd minute, Kdouh connected the header on a corner, but it again went wide off the mark. Pratik Singh made yet another brilliant save while going one-on-one with Velanco Rodrigues as Indian Arrows were denied yet again at the stroke of halftime.
Indian Arrows showcased attacking intent as soon as the second half started. In the 50th minute, the game spilled inside the box, with Suhail Bhat, Parthib Gogoi and Vibin Mohanan looking to get away with a shot on target. But NEROCA defensive troops stayed alert and cleared the danger. In the 55th minute, Sailo took a left-footed shot on target, forcing NEROCA goalkeeper to make yet another save.
With his impeccable dribbling skills, Sailo continued to pose a threat to NEROCA as the game entered the one-hour mark. A couple of minutes later, Khaiminthang Lhungdim scripted a brilliant move inside Indian Arrows’ box, but it was well defended by the young defensive forces.
In the 73rd minute, Jiteshwor sent in a chipped pass inside the box which was punched away by the Indian Arrows goalkeeper Syed Bukhari. But he could only find Vicky Meitei who got a header on the ball, forcing Raj Basfore to come to defensive duties. But the ball struck Brijesh Giri’s body and went inside the nets, giving NEROCA FC a 1-0 lead via an own goal.
With the clock running down, the Indian Arrows brought on fresh legs, replacing Velanco Rodgrigues with Taison Singh. Two minutes later, Indian Arrows full back Tankadhar Bag sent in a dangerous cross inside the box for Suhail Bhat. But the young forward could not connect his header well and the ball went above the goalpost.
Just before the end of regulation time, Parthib Gogoi dribbled past NEROCA midfield to create a sensational chance for Taison Singh inside the box. But the shot from Manipur forward only hit the woodwork and Indian Arrows missed the golden opportunity to salvage a point in the match.