Shillong 31st January: Shillong Lajong FC’s Cameroonian striker Aser Dipanda Dicka looked unstoppable, scoring both of his club’s goals on their way to a 2-0 victory over Chennai City FC in the sixth round of the I-League here today.

Dicka’s fourth and fifth goals of the season demonstrate that he has truly made the JN Stadium, Shillong, his home and he moves to the joint top position in the race for 2016-17’s Golden Boot.

Today’s result was the Reds’ third I-League victory in a row, a feat that they last achieved in the second half of the 2011-12 season. The win was notable in other ways as well – it was the first time this season that Lajong have kept a clean sheet and coach Thangboi Singto has gone in with the same starting XI now in each of the three home games, unwilling or perhaps having no need to change a winning combination.

Although he did not get his name on the scoresheet, midfielder Isaac Vanmalsawma earned plaudits for providing a perfect cross for Dicka to get his opening goal in the 20th minute via a header. Isaac was the provider for Dicka in the last game against Mumbai FC as well, though on that occasion it was from a free-kick.

The Reds had a look-in before 10 minutes when Chennai City’s Haroon Amiri handled the ball, for which he received a yellow card. Samuel Lalmuanpuia stepped up for the kick, but his attempt went over the crossbar.

The home team absolutely dominated the first half, with Chennai’s Brazilian forwards Marcos Thank and Charles de Souza not working well at the front. Thank often had to dip into the midfield as Lajong kept up the pressure on the opposition’s citadel.

The first half ended with the hosts 1-0 up, but in the last two fixtures, Lajong have been a little complacent at the start of the second half and have paid for it be conceding in the first 10 minutes or so following the restart.

This time, however, even though Chennai made a couple of attacking advances into the Lajong half, the Red defenders held them off and kept that narrow lead going.

Man of the Match Dicka then put some more distance between his team and that of the visitors when a long free-kick into the Chennai box was not cleared away and the Cameroonian grabbed his chance and smashed the ball clean into the net for the two-goal lead.

Rupert Nongrum and Redeem Tlang were also notable in their attacks forward, while Chinglensana Singh held his ground in defence and Yuta Kinowaki dominated the midfield for the Reds.

Chinglensana, the rest of the defensive line and goalie Vishal Kaith will be relieved and tremendously happy after keeping a clean sheet and they had to work hard to do this in the second half with tremendous pressure put on them by Chennai’s forwards and midfielders.

However, even though Chennai were on the attack, Singto did not become too defensive, bringing on Fabio Pena as a late substitute and both sides went all at it until the final whistle blew.

Lajong remain in fifth position, but now have nine points, while City are ninth on four. The Reds’ next test will be on Sunday, February 5th, when they host Churchill Brothers at 4:30PM and the North East club will look to make history by carrying on their momentum and earning another victory.

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About Ajay M.