Consolation win for Mizoram

March 8, 2016: Mizoram improved dramatically in the second half to score a consolation 2-1 win over Services in a Pool A match of the 70th Santosh Trophy football championship here on Tuesday.

In another match in the same group, Jammu & Kashmir ended its campaign on a high note, defeating former champion Railways 2-1.

However, Mizoram’s win had no impact on the final group standings as Services had already topped the group by virtue of having beaten Maharashtra earlier. Having ensured the top spot in the group, Services tested its bench strength.

However, the changes did not have the desired effect as the defending champion was far from convincing in attack. The midfield struggled to create chances for strikers Arjun Tudu and Sarajit Singh. But Services went ahead off the first genuine chance it created at the rival half. A quick move opened up the Mizo defence and Bibake Thapa, who was poised to score, was hacked down by Lal Rinzuala Khiangte in the 22nd minute. The resultant penalty was converted by Arjun Tudu in the 23rd minute.

The introduction of Malsawmfela and Ruben Zosangpuia in the second half gave a much needed fillip to the Mizo attack. Playing with a lot of energy and determination, Mizoram caught Services off guard. Dawngliana equalised for Mizoram in the 49th minute with a sublime finish as Lalkhapuimawia arrowed in a precise cross from the left flank.

The equaliser galvanised the Mizo side and the Services goal came under sustained pressure. A fine move from the right flank resulted in the second goal when Lalrosanga darted in and centred the ball. Dawngliana missed the first attempt and the ball came to an unmarked Lalkhapuimawia, who buried the ball into the net in the 59th minute.

Mizoram had another chance, but Services goalkeeper Shibin Raj made a reflex save to deny Laldanmawia in the 65th minute. Thereafter, there were few chances as Services slowed down the game by holding on to the ball. Altamash Syed snatched a late winner as J&K upset former champion Railways 2-1. Shahnwaz Bashir (38) put J&K ahead, but Anil Kisku (61) found the equaliser in the second half.

The results: Mizoram 2 (Dawngliana 49, Lalkhapuimawia 59) bt Services 1 (Arjun Tudu 23); Jammu & Kashmir 2 (Shahnwaz Bashir 38, Altamash Syed 85) bt Railways 1 (Anil Kisku 61).
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