Kokrajhar, Aug 13 (PTI): Ronney Wilson Kharbudon’s brace helped 10-man Shillong Lajong FC beat Downtown Heroes 2-1 in a Group D fixture, and end their campaign on a high note in the Durand Cup here on Sunday.
Lajong goalkeeper Ngamsanglena Haokip was shown a straight red card in the 10th minute of the game at the SAI Stadium.
Wilson’s own goal in the 23rd minute gave Downtown the lead, but he recovered to score two more goals in the 36th and 52nd minute as Lajong finished the tournament with three points from three matches.
Lajong were playing for pride as they were already out of reckoning to qualify for the knockouts, while Downtown were playing to make a mark at the highest level of Indian football.
The first real chance of the opening half came for Lajong as Pursunep’s effort was saved brilliantly by Downtown keeper Paramjit Baghel. The counter attack on that save led to Shillong Lajong being reduced to ten men.
Nigerian Ezekeil Oroh was free on goal but he was felled by Lajong goalkeeper Haokip who came rushing outside the box.
Lajong played positively even with a man down as they came close to breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute. Kynsailang Khongsit’s cross was met by Laiwang Bohham before the Downtown keeper could punch it away but his header went wide.
Figo Syndai’s effort minutes later hit the side net. Downtown broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute through an own goal by Ronney.
DHFC Captain Shahid Nazir’s free kick was deflected into his own goal by Ronney giving the lead for the side from Kashmir.
Lajong continued to play positive football which led to the equaliser in the 36th minute. A corner from Laiwang Bohham was met by Syndai and the ball was headed in by Ronney, making amends for his own goal earlier.
The teams went into the break with scores level on 1-1.
Downtown were trying to make use of their personnel advantage but could not find the decisive moves in the final stretch. On the other end, Lajong were menacing on the counter attacks and were making good use of their set pieces.
One such move led to the second goal for the Reds. Captain Hardy Cliff Nongbri’s freekick from the center circle was met well by Ronney and his glancing header beat keeper Paramjit Baghel to give them a 2-1 lead.
The game followed the same pattern as Downtown chased an equaliser. The Shillong side was organised in defence and made good use of the counter attacks.
They created better chances as well, mostly from set pieces. Syndai had a golden opportunity to finish off the game but he shot wide after the Downtown keeper spilled the ball off a corner.
Lajong saw off the rest of the game as they signed off the tournament with a win. Their next assignment will be I–League, having gained a promotion this year.