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Imphal, March 9, 2020
Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC left it late to salvage a crucial 1-0 win over All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium on Sunday.
Deepak Devrani emerged the unlikely hero, netting the winner in the 89th minute.
The win comes at a very important time for TRAU, who now have some breathing space in their quest for Hero I-League survival. With the three points, they have now moved to 22 points, fourth in the table and seven points clear of city-rivals Neroca, who are in the relegation spot.
Both dugouts fielded three changes apiece. In the TRAU line-up, Jedidi Haokip started in goal, marking his first appearance this season. Robinson Singh started in the four-man midfield, as did Loken Meitei, who started out wide.
Arrows head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh reinstated Bikash Yumnam and RV Hormipam to his backline, while also opting for Telem Suranjit Singh in the middle.
The first half was a cagey affair with the majority of the game unfurling in midfield. Either side struggled for penetration but towards the business end of the first half, the game went up a gear.
TRAU came close in the 37th minute through Joseph Mayowa’s delicate cross, which crept over Samik Mitra in the Arrows goal and came off the inside of the woodwork.
Indian Arrows responded with a counter of their own five minutes later. The ball fell to Givson Singh, who made some space for himself with a couple of neat touches before firing across goal. His shot took a deflection which left Haokip scrambling across goal, but to his relief saw it go across for a corner in the final moments of the half.
The second half resumed with the same cautious approach from either side. Arrows gaffer Venkatesh introduced his leading goal-scorer Vikram Partap Singh near the hour mark, hoping for him to make a super-sub impact.
Vikram’s introduction seemed to have given the visitors the sudden burst in pace going forward. In the 77th minute, the Arrows were on the counter again as Nikhil Raj lobbed the ball into the path of Vikram, who ran the length of the TRAU half before driving a low-cross across goal. Nikhil, who had complimented Vikram’s run, mistimed his shot as the cross went begging.
The Arrows were looking to nick one in the final ten minutes and had another shot at goal in the 85th minute. Vikram was at the epicentre again, playing a delightful through ball to the path of Harmanpreet Singh, but Haokip came off his line to deny him. The rebound fell to Nikhil Raj, but Haokip made another good save to deny on the follow-up.
TRAU introduced Romanian forward Petru Leuca, which may have sparked the shift in the tides. In the 89th minute, the hosts pushed men forward. Tanmoy Ghosh made good work of the ball and having found some space, dinked one into the box which was headed clear by Akash Mishra. The pieces fell to Deepak Devrani, who went for the spectacular with a scissor kick and to everyone’s disbelief, netted one of the goals of this Hero I-League season which proved to the match-winner for the Imphal outfit.