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I-League 2023-24: NEROCA FC survives scare to clinch win against resolute Delhi FC

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SRI BHAINI SAHIB

Despite running into a four-goal lead, NEROCA FC capitulated, struggled, and then ended up relieved taking three points away from home with a 4-3 win over Delhi FC in the I-League on November 27, 2023.

It was no surprise that Delhi, the home team, tore into NEROCA right from the off, and could have, with calmer heads and better finishing, wrapped the game up within the first five minutes itself.

In the fourth minute, Kitboklang Khyriem’s cross from the left flew dangerously to the far post, only for Gaurav Rawat to head over from five yards. A minute later, Rawat had turned provider, running in from the right flank to cut the ball back for Balwant Singh, only for the striker to miss the ball. Wave after wave of Delhi attacks followed the same pattern, let down by the men inside the box.

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When the opener arrived, it came against the run of play, with NEROCA capitalising on Delhi committing attacking numbers to launch a counter. From the attack, Tarak Hembram launched a cross into the box from the right. It was a little behind Tangva Ragui, but the midfielder did brilliantly to not just get power, but also perfect direction to his header, as it nestled into the bottom left out of the reach of Naveen Kumar. The visitors had a shock lead.

It took a long while for a second goal to arrive, but once it did the others arrived in a flurry. Balwinder Singh doubled NEROCA’s lead in the 74th minute before David Singh scored a screamer in the 77th to extend its lead to three. A minute later, NEROCA added one more via Aniket Panchal and Delhi’s day looked to be descending into humiliation.

In the 83rd minute, Aroldinho got one back for Delhi with a volley from a header which came off the post, and a minute later, Sergio Barboza headed in a second from Aroldinho’s looped cross.

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NEROCA was panicking, and in the 90th minute, Barboza got his second and Delhi’s third as Balwinder’s clearance bounced off his head and went past Santosh in the visitors’ goal.

It was as close as Delhi would come though, as time proved to be the toughest opponent. For NEROCA, it was a sigh of relief as they won the three points.

Result

Delhi FC 3 (Aroldinho 81′, Sergio Barboza 85′, 90′) lost to NEROCA FC 4 (Tangva Ragui 16′, Balwinder Singh 73′, Lourembam David Singh 77′, Aniket Panchal 78′)

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