Tiddim Road Athletic United (TRAU) FC came out on top with a 2-0 victory over RoundGlass Punjab FC in their I-League 2022-23 fixture at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Thursday.
Buanthanglun Samte and Salam Johnson Singh found the net on either side of the breather to give TRAU a much-needed win and end a run of three straight losses. The result also ended the visitors’ unbeaten start as they also failed to find the net in a match for the first time this season.
The first half began on a quiet note, with no major chances created early on and the teams looking to enter their rhythms. All that changed in the 25th minute as Samte curled home a masterful free-kick.
Battling with an onrushing forward to reach a weak backpass, RoundGlass Punjab goalkeeper Kiran Limbu was forced into a foul just outside the penalty area on the right side. From the resulting set piece, the TRAU left fullback fired his shot into the top corner to give his team the lead.
The hosts then preferred to sit back in their half and threaten mostly through counter-attacks, allowing the visitors to pass the ball and build out from the back. In the 38th minute, the strategy almost paid off as Baoringdao Bodo broke away into the penalty box but his shot was blocked at the last moment by Freddy Lallawmawma.
RoundGlass Punjab’s attacking threats were mostly limited to crosses and shots from long distance. Naocha Singh stung the palms of goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh in the 36th minute and seven minutes later, Maheson Singh’s driven shot after dribbling past two players flew over the bar.
Their best scoring opportunity of the first half came in added time, as Bishorjit flung himself to save a free-kick by Juan Mera. The rebound fell to Daniel Lalhlimpuia, whose shot under pressure was mis-hit and Deepak Devrani could not apply the finishing touch despite his best efforts. At half-time, the scoreline read 1-0 in favour of TRAU.
The home team almost doubled their lead just four minutes into the second half but Bodo could not keep his shot on target after being found by a low cross by Johnson. In the 54th minute, however, TRAU doubled their advantage with another quality finish.
After some fine build-up play, Samte’s cross from the left flank reached the far post and found Johnson, who took a touch and slammed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
The team from Punjab continued to dominate possession but found it hard to make any serious inroads into the rival defence. Maheson had another go at goal from outside the box in the 64th minute and Bishorjit claimed it without any fuss. On the other end, Bodo again got on the end of a low cross but made a mess of the finish.
As the match drew to a close, Mera had another free-kick palmed away for a corner by Bishorjit in the 85th minute. RoundGlass Punjab pushed hard to find their way back into the match but could not break down the resolute TRAU defensive line.
In the dying moments, captain Komron Tursunov almost made it three for TRAU but his thundering drive from distance cannoned off the woodwork. (ANI)