Debutants Real Kashmir FC continued their impressive show this I-League season by registering a solitary goal victory over former champions Aizawl FC at the TRC Turf ground here on Wednesday. Ivorian midfielder Bazie Armand struck the match-winner in the 30th minute to help the home side register their third win and jump to fourth in the league standings with 10 points from six games.
Aizawl FC remain in ninth place with five points from seven games. Both the coaches made one change to the playing eleven that featured in their respective previous games. New Ghanaian recruit Abednego Kofi Teteh got the first start in place of Zambian Aaron Katebe for Real Kashmir while Joe Zoherliana of Aizawl was replaced in deep defence by Nigerian Kareem Nurain who made a comeback after an injury lay-off.
The home side made their intentions clear from the outset as Ivorian striker Krizo took a snapshot in the opening minutes but Gurpreet, the Aizawl keeper was equal to the task. Then Surchandra Singh came in from the right flank and made a good first-time connection to a Nagem Tamang cross in the eighth minute but hit the side-netting.
Aizawl had a chance of their own in the 25th minute when Albert’s cross from the right forced a tip-over by Real Kashmir keeper Bilal but the ball bounced off the bar and came back to Liberian striker Ansumanah Kromah, who despite being a bit out of position, managed a side-flick which lobbed over the goal.
Real Kashmir went ahead in the half-hour mark off a set-piece. Surchandra Singh, who got involved in a Kashmir goal for the second game running, delivered a superb corner from the left to which Bazie rose above the Aizawl defence to direct his header past Gurpreet into the far corner. This was the Ivorian’s second goal in this I-League.
Aizawl got the first chance of the second half when Albert was set up for a free-header by Lalrinfela, who delivered a fine cross from inside the box on the left, but his goal-bound header bounced off Mason Robertson in the Real Kashmir defence.
For the home side, it was Krizo who got the best chances of the second half and two free-headers, one off a cross from Kofi and another in the 82nd minute off a free-kick, missed their marks.
Aizawl head coach Gift Raikhan played all his cards and even brought on Kyrgistani midfielder Bektur Talgat in place of David Lalrinmuana in the 73rd minute, but it was not enough to stop Scottish coach David Robertson’s Real Kashmir from walking away winners on the day.