KALYANI: Gokulam Kerala FC edged past Mohammedan Sporting Club 2-1 in their Hero I-League championship round clash on Sunday at Kalyani Municipal Stadium.
Dennis Antwi (19′ & 34′) were on target for Gokulam before Sujit Sadhu (85′) pulled a goal back for Mohammedan.
In the first-half Gokulam were clinical with their passing and ball possession, controlling the tempo of the game to the tune of two goals. In the second-half, Mohammedan was the aggressor, winning the ball time and time again through aggressive pressure and going on the attack that had them cut the deficit in half.
Despite some quick and accurate passes from both sets of players, neither side was able to establish dominance over the midfield during the early stages which made for an end-to-end, open encounter.
Mohammedan were pressing high without the ball, trying to put pressure on the Gokulam defence which looked organised and comfortable to dictate the pace of the match and limit Mohammedan’s options to counterattacks.
Nonetheless, Mohammedan’s confidence slowly started to grow as the first-half unfolds. Possession-wise Mohammedan seemed to have the upper hand and certainly in terms of shots on goals the Black Panthers were keeping their opponent’s goalkeeper Ubaid CK much busier than their own custodian Priyant Singh was.
The two sides continued to cancel each other in the middle of the whiles trying to break on the counter attack.
With Mohammedan struggling to open up Gokulam’s well organised defence and the game opening up, The Malabarians sensed their opportunity on the counter. Dennis latched on to Sebastian’s long pass in the area, he took it under control, and sent a powerful shot into the bottom corner in the 19th minute.
Gokualm, then, continued to have the majority of possession and chances in front of goal with Dennis combining well with his fellow Ghanaian compatriot Philip Adjah to create opportunities they were often unlucky not to score from.
Nonetheless, as the match progressed, it looked like an equaliser was almost certainly on the horizon for Mohammedan as they dominated possession and kept Ubaid working hard.
However, by pushing forward the Black Panthers have left themselves exposed and vulnerable at the back and Gokulam took full advantage against the run of play when they doubled their advantage in the 34th minute after Dennis turned past Faisal Ali to enter the area before squeezing his shot past Priyant at the near post, doubling the Malabrians lead.
With Gokulam taking a two-goal lead, the Black Panthers had to throw caution to the wind as they launched a wave of attacks on the Gokulam defence, however couldn’t find a way to break down that final line as they went into the break trailing 2-0, with a mountain to climb in the second stanza.
Going into the second-half Gokulam continued to apply pressure and made some decent runs forward. Mohammedan, however, are not a side to give up lightly and despite trailing by two goals kept the intensity high, and the pressure on their opponents as they battled to find a way back into the match.
Nonetheless, the lack of finishing in the attacking third and outstanding defending from Gokulam meant Mohammedan could not find a goal as reward for their early dominance.
However, an unrelenting Mohammedan side kept the pressure on their opponents and eventually managed to break down the solid Gokulam backline as Tirthankar Sarkar’s freekick is met by Sujit, who sent his header past the stretching Gokulam keeper Ubaid in the 85th minute.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Mohammedan showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Gokulam remained solid at the back.
Mohammedan, to their credit, never gave up but it appeared as if getting on the score sheet just wasn’t to be for the side today with every shot went anywhere but on target as Gokulam held on on for a win which took them to the summit of league table with 26 points while Mohammedan remained on fifth place with 20 points after 14 matches.