Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) scraped past Aizawl FC with a 1-0 win in the I-League on Tuesday at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium. Komron Tursunov’s fifth-minute goal turned out to be the winner as TRAU’s debutant goalkeeper Amrit Gope put up an inspired performance to give the Manipuri club their second win of the season.
Aizawl FC made two changes in their starting XI from their goalless draw with table-toppers Churchill Brothers. Head coach Yan Law started Ramhlunchhunga and David Laltlansanga. TRAU, whose unbeaten run came to an end against RoundGlass Punjab made three changes, bringing in Naresh Singh, goalkeeper Amrit Gope and Brazilian playmaker Bruno Rodrigues.
TRAU’s Phalguni Singh tipped a loose ball in the path of Tursunov in the fifth minute, and the Tajik forward broke into the area before sending a thunderous strike into the low left-hand corner.
Tursunov had a chance to double the lead in the 10th minute as he pounced on Laldinpuia’s error. However, his left-footed volley was high of the Aizawl goal. Aizawl had a chance to pull one back in the 14th minute when Ramhlunchhunga met a long throw, but his header was wayward and off-target.
Aizawl held most of the ball in the opening half, while TRAU were comfortable counterattacking. TRAU created another chance to double the lead, but Bidyashagar Singh’s dipping effort from outside the area was comfortably saved by Lalmuansanga.
Aizawl’s persistence in attack paid off and they won a penalty kick after a clumsy tackle from Shahabaaz brought down Ramhlunchhunga on the 39th minute. However, MC Zuala’s shot hit the post before being cleared by the TRAU defenders.
Moments after the miss, Joseph Olaleye broke through the right wing with a scintillating solo run. His strike looked like it was headed into the top right corner was brilliantly saved by the Aizawl keeper Lalmuansanga. TRAU kept pushing for the second goal in the dying minutes of the first half but headed into the break with a 1-0 lead over their Northeastern rivals.
Aizawl FC returned in the second half showing great attacking intent and came close to equalise in the 49th minute. Lalliansanga received the ball after some good build-up play in the midfield, but his shot from a tight angle was swept away by the young TRAU custodian Amrit Gope. Seconds later, Malsawmtluanga had a sighter from long-range, but his curling shot kept rising.
Amrit Gope was again called into action in the 57th minute to deny Lalliansanga again from a very narrow-angle. Aizawl kept the pressure on for the next ten minutes, but could not test the goalkeeper again until the 69th minute.
Lalliansanga received a long ball deep into the opposition half. He needed a couple of touches to bring the ball under his control allowing the keeper Amrit to bravely close him down and block his shot. TRAU finally got a break from all the defending after the 80th-minute mark as they were able to hold the possession in the attacking half and break Aizawl FC’s momentum.
Aizawl kept pushing for the equaliser late in regulation time and Lalliansanga’s deflected shot was well saved again by Amrit Gope in injury time. The best save of the lot came in the last minute of added time, as Gope tipped over Malsawmtluanga’s curler over the bar, and give TRAU the three points.