SHILLONG LAJONG TOOK a big step in their quest to qualify for the I-League, beating United SC in their first game of the 2nd Division League final round.
The match, taking place in the SSA Stadium in Shillong, saw Lajong draw first blood via Hardy Cliff Nongbri just after the half hour mark. But United SC soon struck back as Sanjib Mondal found the net.
But just as it looked like the game was going into the break on level terms, Figo Syndai scored for Shillong Lajong in added time.
The second half remained a hard-fought affair but Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet's boys held on to ensure the 2-1 victory and 3 crucial points.
Both Lajong and United SC are former top division clubs who faced a decline among the last decade's uncertainties over the Indian football league structure. This season, both clubs have emerged as major contenders in the third tier league, looking to re-assert themselves in the national level.
In the other match of the day, FC Bengaluru United got a 1-0 win over Delhi FC. Irfan Yadwad scored in the 76th minute to ensure the win for FCBU, who came close to qualifying for the I-League in 2019-20 but fell short by a few points. As for Delhi FC, this is a major setback in their quest to make it to the I-League for the first time; something they came close to achieving in 2021 but missed out by just 1 point.
Lajong's next match will be against Delhi FC on 11th, and Bengaluru United will face Ambernath United Atlanta FC on the same day. United SC won't be back in action until the 16th of May when they host Delhi FC in Kalyani, West Bengal.