Calcutta, April 30: Gokulam Kerala came from behind to defeat Churchill Brothers FC Goa in a 1-1 draw in the Hero I-League at Kalyani Stadium here on Saturday.
Ikechukwu Kenneth Ngwoke opened the scoring by scoring the opening goal in the 15th minute. However, his goal was disallowed by Jourdain Fletcher. Gokulam Kerala dominated the match in terms of ball possession (69 per cent) and shots on goal (13), but were forced to settle for a late draw.
League leaders Gokulam Kerala FC started the game on the front foot, pressing relentlessly in hopes of breaking the tie early. They also had back-to-back chances inside 10 minutes but couldn’t convert them. Meanwhile, Churchill Brothers FC Goa relied on their defense to prevent their opponents from scoring an early goal.
After securing the baseline, the Churchill Brothers began their counter-attack, and were soon rewarded when Nigerian striker Kenneth Ngwoke tricked opposing goalkeeper Akshit Dagar into putting his team ahead in the 15th minute. Richard Costa set it up with a looping cross, and the 29-year-old made no mistakes when he smashed the ball into the net.
After conceding the opening goal, Gokulam Kerala upped their game in search of an equaliser. Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, kept their cool and did not allow their opponents to level the game. The Churchill Brothers defense was solid, despite Gokulam’s constant attacks through the channels. Churchill’s fullbacks didn’t leave much room for the reigning champions around the 18-yard box to create clear chances.
Jithin MS received the first yellow card of the match in the 36th minute for a hard foul following a persistent attack from Gokulam Kerala. However, they also managed to equalize the contest when Jourdain Ronaldo Fletcher saved a goal for his team in the 38th minute. Mohammed Jasim raced down the line, getting past a couple of Churchill defenders before passing Fletcher in the area, who hit the ball in the net.
After that, both teams increased their intensity in an attempt to take the lead by scoring their second goal, but they were unsuccessful in their attempts as the game was tied at 1-1 at the end of the first half.
Both Gokulam Kerala and Churchill Brothers started the second half cautiously as they looked to take the lead in the match. Gokulam Kerala named double substitutions at the start of the second half as Sreekuttan VS and Zodingliana replaced Ahmed Waseem Razeek and Jithin on the field respectively. Zodingliana was booked for a challenge on one of his opponents just two minutes after taking the field.
As the game approached the one hour mark, the Malabarians increased their efforts in search of a goal. Churchill, on the other hand, kept a tight rein on his competitors.
Thahir Zaman was replaced by Beneston Barretto in the 62nd minute as Gokulam Kerala made another round of substitutions. In the 68th minute, Krizo was booked, becoming the first Churchill Brothers player to be penalized. Shubert Pereira replaced Krizo five minutes after he was called.
Emil Benny was substituted in the 75th minute to make way for Abhijith K, and three minutes later he produced a superb chance for Gokulam Kerala as he fired a shot from close range, which missed.
The defending champions continued their persistent attack as the game drew to a close in hopes of scoring the winning goal. However, the red machines kept their composure to wait for the draw.
Result: Churchill Brothers FC Goa – 1 (Ikechukwu Kenneth Ngwoke 15′) tied with Gokulam Kerala FC – 1 (Jourdain Ronaldo Fletcher 38′)