Nigerian centre back Loveday Okechukwu scored in the dying minutes of the game to seal a 1-0 win for Madan Maharaj FC over Ryntih SC in the I-League Qualifiers here on Monday.
Ryntih SC dominated proceedings for the majority of the contest but was left to rue its missed opportunities as the experienced Madan Maharaj side held on to snatch a late winner (90′) at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
The defeat ended Ryntih SC’s chances of making it to the final round of the I-League Qualifiers.
After a tenacious start from both teams where neither side was willing to give an inch, the first moment of concern came in the 19th minute from a wide free-kick for Ryntih SC.
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As Allen Lyngdoh swung in a cross from the right-wing, Madan Maharaj FC needed all hands on deck to clear the danger. This sight of goal boosted the Meghalaya club’s morale, as Ryntih SC produced its first shot on target through Chesterpoul Lyngdoh just moments later.
Lyngdoh found himself in a yard of space in a central position outside the penalty box, but his left-footed shot went straight into goalkeeper Shayan Roy’s hands.
The next bright spark of the match came in the 24th minute when Carlos Challam set off with intent on a searching run inside the box before being nudged off the ball by opposition forward Amarendu Chakraborty. The referee saw no foul play and waived off all penalty appeals from the Ryntih SC touchline.
Chesterpoul Lyngdoh found himself in sight of the goal again in the 25th minute when he got on the end of a cross from Allen Lyngdoh. Chesterpaul was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot, but it proved to be a difficult chance to convert as the forward had to bend far too low to generate power and direction in his header.
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MMFC grew into the game slowly as the contest neared the full-time whistle. Jiten Murmu had an opportunity to score in the 78th minute when he met a cross that came in from the left-wing, but he could not keep his effort inside the goalposts.
As the game inched towards the final whistle, there was an increasing sense that one goal might be enough to decide the closely fought tie. That proved to be the case as Madan Maharaj FC’s Nigerian centre back Okechukwu rose highest from a set-piece to send a looping header over Ryntih goalkeeper Neithovilie Chalieu.