Coming off a month-long home-leg in their debut season, Real Kashmir FC rallied to earn a vital point from Gokulam Kerala FC’s grasp in their second away I-League fixture in Kozhikode on Saturday. Pritam Singh opened the scoring for Gokulam Kerala FC in the 20th minute but the visitors came back strongly in the second half to find the equaliser in the 69th minute when Surchandra Singh scored his third goal of the season from an acute angle.
Following the result, Real Kashmir toppled Churchill Brothers to the third spot with 14 points from eight matches while Gokulam Kerala FC replaced East Bengal at the sixth place with 10 points from eight matches.
Entering the game after a 6-1 mauling of Lajong, David Robertson opted to field an unchanged starting lineup. Bino George made as many as five changes in the starting lineup including giving Joel Sunday his debut for the Keralite outfit. While Sunday replaced another foreigner Mudda Musa, Rashid K and Pritam Singh came in for Bodo and Rajesh S at the attacking front. Dimple Bhagat filled in for Deepak K and Arnab Das Sharma took the charge under the woodwork replacing Shibinraj.
Gokulam Kerala who were at the receiving end in their last fixture against East Bengal started in full throttle to make amends in front of the home crowd. In the 10th minute, Arjun Jayaraj came very close to finding the back of the net but his right-footer ricocheted off the post. Seven minutes later, on the other side of the ground, Loveday leapt above others to connect to a looping corner but it went off target.
Pritam Singh took another three minutes to open the scoreline for the hosts to send the crowd into a rapture. The midfielder took on his own to hurl the attack from the middle and before Bilal could reach on time, he chipped it to hit the target.
After conceding the goal, Real Kashmir tried every bit to restore parity but Ortiz and Castro played a significant role to keep them at bay.
After the changeover, Robertson replaced Nagen Tamang with Ritwik Das to instill some versatility in the attacking front and it paid some dividends in bits and pieces for the visitors.
Loveday once again tried his luck but before he could get something out of it, Arnab Das Sharma snatched it on time. In the 69th minute, Surchandra stunned the Kerala crowd having scored the equaliser from an acute angle inside the penalty box.
Both coaches used their substitutes in the dying minutes of the match but both defences stood tall to deny the attackers until the final whistle.