RGPFC – 1 (Ajay 34′) NEROCA – 0
Imphal, February 20th, 2023: A first half goal from midfielder Ajay Chhetri was enough for RoundGlass Punjab FC to beat NEROCA FC and secure three crucial three points in a Round 18 fixture in the Hero I-League 2022-23 season played here at the Khuman Lampak Stadium. RGPFC remain in second place with this win on head to head record along with Sreenidi Deccan.
RGPFC coach Staikos Vergetis made two changes to the starting lineup bringing in Brandon Vanlalremdika and Khaiminthang Lhungdim instead of Abhishek Singh and Ashis Pradhan. NEROCA FC coach Khogen Singh fielded his strongest side for the match against the side who are second on the table. RGPFC started the match on the front foot by controlling possession of the ball and passing the ball around. Juan Mera and Brandon were causing panic in the NEROCA half with their darting runs. RGPFC got a golden opportunity to open the scoring from a Juan Mera free kick. His perfect pass was met by Ajay Chhetri who was free inside the box but he could only put his header wide. The next phase of the match was dominated by NEROCA who started to create chances. Jamaican striker Jourdain Fletcher tested RGPFC keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu from a free kick which was expertly saved by the keeper. Moments later Sweden Fernandes’ ferocious shot from outside the box hit the post and went out. RGPFC took the lead in the 34th minute against the run of play when a loose ball was picked up by Luka Majcen in midfield and he found Brandon in the right wing. Brandon’s looping cross was met by Ajay Chhetri who rose above two defenders to find the net past NEROCA keeper Poirei Meitei. RGPFC keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu was needed to keep the lead intact when he saved another shot from Fletcher. NEROCA had a golden opportunity to equalise in the dying seconds of the half. Nonganba Akoijam found himself free inside the box from a pass from the right and he had an open goal to finish but somehow managed to hit his shot wide.
The second half saw NEROCA coming all out to find the equaliser. They had their chances to equalise, however they were hindered by RGPFC keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu on multiple occasions. He was rock solid and made many saves frustrating the host’s attack line. Sweden Fernandes, Jourdaine Fletcher and Bayi Komo tried but could not find a way past Kiran. RGPFC also had their chance to finish off the game but Brandon blasted over the post from close range. Kiran Kumar Limbu was deservedly awarded the Hero of the Match.
RGPFC have 40 points from eighteen matches while NEROCA FC have 21 points from eighteen matches. RGPFC will face Sudeva Delhi FC on 26th February at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula.