Pailan Arrows bowed out of the Federation Cup like a performer does after exhibiting a wonderful performance. The All India Football developmental (AIFF) side finished their third round Group A engagements just behind qualifiers Dempo with five points from three matches. In their last encounter, they got the better of Shillong Lajong 2-1. Goals from Holicharan Narzary and Prabir Das sealed the win for Arrows. Ebi Sukore netted the only goal for Lajong.
Narzary scored off a rebound in the 17th minute after Tirthankar Sarkar’s effort was fisted away by Lajong custodian Kirang Krishnan only for the Arrows No.11 to nod the ball into the back of the net.
But Arrows’s joy was cut short few minutes later when Lajong striker Ebi Sukore scored one of the easiest goals you will see to equalise in the 21st minute. But it was Arrows’ brilliant attacking display in the second half that earned them the all important winner in the 69th minute through Prabir Das.
Arrows showed their intent from the first whistle. Avinabo Bag – who had an impressive tournament so far – tried his luck from 25 yards out, and his effort in the opening seconds of the match was inches over the bar. After conceding the goal, Arrows remained extra cautious playing with renewed verve and grit. A testimony to this is Ravi Kumar’s – playing his first match under the bar – confident save in the 40th claim of a powerful Sukore strike.
Papas was not sticking to a particular formation, swiftly shifting from his starting unorthodox 3-5-1-1 to the conventional 4-4-2. In the second half, Arrows were playing 4-3-3 with Tirthankar making way for playmaker Alwyn George.
Knowing the Australian tactician, this is not something new from him. His strategic flexibility came to the fore in the AFC U-22 Championship in Muscat where he miraculously made the boys adapt to his style very quickly. The case was no different for the boys in white under him.
Post the breather; Arrows looked much more threatening in the final third. With Alwyn now in the picture, the AIFF developmental side caused a lot of trouble for the Lajong back four. Their attacks stemmed from the flanks and in the 67th minute Prabir Das met one such floater from the left wing to give Arrows the much needed advantage.
Pailan Arrows 2 (Holicharan Narzary – 17th, Prabir Das –69th)
Shillong Lajong 1 (Ebi Sukore – 21st)