Shillong, April 20 IANS | 8 months ago

The last I-League football derby of the season in Shillong has a lot at stake for Rangdajied United FC.

Rangdajied need at least a point to ensure that they are no longer threatened with relegation, as they take on Shillong Lajong FC in the second Shillong derby at the JN Stadium here Monday afternoon.

After a three-game surge at the start of the second half to the season, the Blues have reverted to struggling, with three losses in their last four fixtures, and they need a final flourish to close out the season in front of their home fans in a match that they will host.

Rangdajied (24 points), Churchill Brothers (22) and Mohammedan Sporting (21) are the only teams left in the relegation battle. All three have just one more match to play, with Mohammedan looking the worst.

The first round of the Shillong derby was held in November in front of a packed stadium and the two teams came away 1-1.

It has been a tremendous season for Lajong, the best they have had in four seasons in the top tier. They have 32 points from 22 outings and are in fifth position. The best they can aim for is fourth, overtaking Sporting Clube de Goa (34 points, 23 games), but even holding on to fifth will be a massive achievement.

Lajong certainly have not had the best home season, winning only four out of 12 matches at the JN Stadium, but that is the same statistic for Rangdajied as well. The two teams lost their respective last fixtures at home; RUFC were beaten 2-1 by Sporting Clube, while Lajong were pipped by the same margin by Mumbai FC.

Although all the players are important, the main strikers of both sides have captured the imagination of the fans.

Lajong's Cornell Glen is the joint top scorer in the I-League with 13, courtesy a hat-trick at Mohammedan last week. And then there is Ranti Martins at Rangdajied, who, despite playing just seven matches for the Blues, has emerged as their top scorer with eight goals, including one in every appearance.

The pressure is on Rangdajied, but that should make them even more dangerous. It is a do-or-die battle for the second city team, making the Shillong derby all the more exciting.

(Posted on 20-04-2014)

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