KOZHIKODE (KERALA) Gokulam Kerala were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Kashmir on Saturday at the EMS Stadium.
Pritam Singh scored in the 20th minute to give his team a well-deserved lead but the visitors fought to equalise through a brilliant strike by Surchandra Singh in the 69th minute.
While the visitors opted not to tamper with the lineup that handed Shillong Lajong a 6-1 thrashing on Tuesday, Bino George made four changes to his side that lost to East Bengal. Arnab Das Sharma started in goal whereas new striker Joel Sunday led the line. Mohammad Rashid and Pritam Singh also returned to first team duty.
Real Kashmirs desire to score the first goal pinned Gokulam Kerala back in the early minutes of the match. However, the combination of Abednedo Tetteh and Gnohere Krizo failed to threaten the backline.
The first opening fell to the home team in the 12th minute. Pritam Singhs determined sprint down the right flank and a cross into the box had the Real Kashmir backline in disarray. Joel Sunday laid the ball off for Arjun Jayaraj whose powerful shot struck the crossbar.
The tempo of the game shifted in favour of the hosts as the half wore on and they took a deserved lead in the 20th minute. Arjun Jayarajs audacious through ball from the centre to release Pritam Singh into the box took a kind deflection off Abahash Thapas leg before it reached its target. The Indian winger chipped the ball over Bilal Khan who was off his line and completed a fine move.
The Malabarians could have doubled their lead in the 52nd minute. Joel Sunday flicked a long ball into the path of Arjun Jayaraj who dribbled forward and crossed into the box from the byeline. Pritam Singh arrived in the box at the right moment to latch onto the ball but his effort was saved by Bilal Khan.
Real Kashmir started threatening to claw their way back, both from set-pieces. A free-kick from the right was headed wide by Tetteh in the 63rd minute. Two minutes later Mason Robertsons flick from a corner routine found Loveday Okechukwu inside the box whose pass across the face of goal had no takers.
The visitors pressure yielded an equaliser in the 69th minute. Tetteh played an excellent diagonal towards Surchandra Singh on the right flank. The winger cut inside to his left and curled a fantastic strike into the far corner.
Gokulam Kerala added to the list of missed chances with a Daniel Addo header that went off the crossbar and a Joel Sunday shot from inside the box that was blocked. Despite an open-ended final few minutes, the teams had to settle for a point.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.