Jordan Fletcher helps Neroka FC beat Sudiva Delhi



NEROCA FC picked up its first win in the Hero I-League season 2022-23 on Friday, by defeating Sudeva Delhi FC by 1-0 at Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, Manipur.

Jordan Fletcher’s long-range strike proved to be the difference between the two sides, as the hosts secured their first win of the new season, while Sudiva suffered his second defeat on the trot.

The first half of the game was a virtual vision of scoring chances, with both teams displaying attacking ball and goalkeepers called into action on multiple occasions.

Early in the fourth minute, Sardor Yachonov’s shot deflected and landed awkwardly in the penalty area, and Sudiva goalkeeper Sachin Jha was forced into a caution. Four minutes later, at the other end, Felix Cheedy cut in from the left and fired a shot that was well saved by Soram Poiri.

The match suddenly came to life after 26 minutes, thanks to Sudiva’s Seilenthang Lotjem, as he attempted an acrobatic shot from a cross but his shot went just wide of the goal. Ten minutes later, he found himself in the void outside the penalty area and attempted a chipping shot, which was volleyed away by Bure.

In the 38th minute, Yakhonov curled a fine cross from the left that Lönmenlin Höckep headed but it was straight at the goalkeeper. In the next minute, Sudiva hit another shot as Misawa Tetsuaki’s effort was stopped at the near post, as the teams headed for the break at pinning level.

The hosts created their first big chance of the second half through Fletcher, whose powerful shot from range in the 51st minute was parried by Jha. However, he was stranded in the 62nd minute as Fletcher collected a pass from Nonganpa Singh and flicked the ball into the bottom corner from outside the penalty area to give Neroka the lead.

Two minutes later, Jakhonov tried his luck at distance as well, but he lacked enough power and was collected safely. The hosts almost got their second through Huckip as his deflected shot hit the top of the bar and went out for a corner kick.

With the visitors pushing their players forward, NEROCA had a chance to extend their lead when Fletcher found Jakhonov in a breakaway attack in the 73rd minute. However, Jokhonov caused chaos at the end as he couldn’t put them on target.

Sudiva tried to press for an equalizer but was unable to make much headway in the home side’s defence. A good opportunity came in the 80th minute as Akbar Khan curled in a free kick from just outside the penalty area but his shot hit the wall. Three minutes later, substitute Francis Nwankwo saw his effort swerve past the post by several inches.

In the 88th minute, captain Nishal Chandan took a corner kick but it was weak and was easily saved. The referee added six minutes of extra time, but the score remained unchanged, with Neroca taking the three points.

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