NEROCA extended their unbeaten run to eight games on Tuesday evening as they defeated the young guns of Luis Norton de Matos. Anwar Ali registered an own-goal in the 18th minute and a strike Felix Odili Chidi in the final minute of the match ensured NEROCA walked away with full points from the Tilak Maidan.
Suresh Singh Wangjam replaced Abhijit Sarkar in central midfield while Aniket Jadhav was dropped to introduce Edmund Lalrindika up-front for the Indian Arrows in a 4-2-3-1 formation with skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam and FIFA U-17 World Cup goal-scorer Jeakson Singh Thounaojam forming the double pivot for Luis Norton de Matos' side.
Gift Raikhan, on the other hand, opted for the orthodox 4-4-2 shape with Singam Subash Singh and Felix Odili Chidi leading the attack for NEROCA wherein Loitongbam Bishorjit Singh replaced Lalit Thapa in between the sticks. Israilov Akhlidin and Subash were the other two changes in place of Pritam Singh and Nedo Turkovic.
Rahul Kanooly and Rahim Ali were unable to trouble NEROCA's last line in the first chance that befell the Arrows before they were pegged down by an own goal in the 18th minute when lack of communication at the back lead to Anwar Ali heading Gopi Singh's attempt from the midfield in his own net as Prabhsukhan Gill was caught off his line.
10 minutes later, Anwar's mispass could have also proved costly as the ball landed at the feet of Glen Williams who, after spotting Gill off his line, attempted a belter from the half-line mark. However, the Arrows custodian was able to track back in time.
Later in the half, Subhash's left-footed shot from the right-side of the Arrows box missed the top left corner while Rahim was only able to find the outside netting from Edmund's cross from the right.
Jitendra Singh had to make a last-ditch clearance after Felix was through on goal by a pass sent in by Israilov from the right to keep the scoreline a humble 1-0 in favour of the away side at half-time.
De Matos threw in Aniket and Abhijit in place of Edmund and Jeakson at the start of the second half but the Arrows were often seen running out of options whenever they reached the edge of the box, rallying passing between themselves and unable to launch the trigger.
An odd chance in the second half saw one of Tondonba's long throw-in missed by Sushil Singh, who had replaced Israilov, while the Blue Colts continued putting down the half chances that came their way.
Rahim's sloppy first touch inside the box in the 77th minute was cleared by Varney Kallon. Substitute Ninthoinganba Meetei, who had replaced Boris, put a good cross from the right but Aniket took too long to shoot, thus allowing Williams to avert the danger.
In the final minute of the match, the Manipuri visitors doubled their lead as Felix Chidi found the back of the net after custodian Prabhsukhan and Jitendra failed to obstruct the onrushing the Nigerian.