Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]May 4 (ANI): Gokulam Kerala’s invincible line continued as league leaders beat NEROCA FC 4-0, here at Naihati Stadium.
The clinical finish combined with the opponents’ dissatisfaction helped Gokulam expand their lead at the top of the table.
The top met the bottom when the first half got off to a very bright start. Gokulam Kerala were favorites for an easy victory but NEROCA FC had other plans and matched Gokulam’s desire to win. The league leaders received an unfortunate injury when Ahmed Razeek limped off the field and was replaced by Sreekuttan VS within the opening 20 minutes.
The unrest did not last long as Gokulam took the lead three minutes after the forced change. Skipper Sharif Mohammad did well in midfield and managed to play the ball to Emil Benny.
A diagonal ball from Benny was supposed to reach the left flank but was intercepted by NEROCA defender Abdul Salam. Salam’s header, intended to go towards his goalkeeper, however, landed perfectly for Thahir Zaman, who hit Shubham Dhas to the ball and put in the opener.
Just a minute later, Gokulam came close to doubling their lead when Sreekuttan struck a powerful cross from the right. Jourdaine Fletcher then had a third chance at scoring, but a last ditch challenge made sure that he didnt.
On the counter, Sergio Mendi played a wonderful flick against Davis Kamanga, after which the Zimbabwean was unfairly ruled by Sharif Mohammad near the edge of the box. From the resulting free kick, Mendi Rakshit tested Dagar when the Spaniard unleashed a powerful low shot away from the wall, towards the goalkeeper’s side. Days went down quickly to palm the ball away in safety.
Minutes later, Sweden also tried Fernande’s luck from a distance but his effort lacked strength and was saved when NEROCA ended the half with more shots than Gokulam but still after a goal.
Minutes into the second half, Gokulam took his second for the evening as Zaman took his second of the match. Benny was on his way again when he found Fletcher unmarked on the left wing. The Jamaican played an inch-perfect cross in Zaman’s path, who gently knocked it in with his first touch.
Before NEROCA had time to take a break, Gokulam struck again, this time after being given the opportunity to score a simple goal. A back pass from Lallenmang Sitlhou came to Dhas. The NEROCA goalkeeper was pleased with the ball when Fletcher threw himself at it before Dhas could clear. Finally, the ball was buried in the net by Fletcher, who was vigilant inside NEROCA’s defensive third and made the third.
Zaman were desperate to get a goal back and pushed forward through the middle 28 minutes into the game. Before Zaman had time to throw himself, the pass was interrupted and cleared away.
Thirteen minutes after playing time, Gokulam almost replicated the move that led to the second goal. Fletcher whipped the ball from the left, again, towards Zaman. But this time, Dha was alert and did well to block the ball well before it could reach Zaman.
Minutes before ninety, Gokulam substitute Zodingliana rattled to the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. The effort was on target but it was put on the crossbar by a weak touch from Dhas.
Gokulam got their fourth, deep into the second half stoppage time. Sreekuttan, who had played a fantastic match after coming into the first half, got his name on the goal record after turning in and out on Sitlhou and then pasting the ball at the nearest post.
Another match and another victory for Gokulam Kerala meant that they went six points ahead of Mohammedan SC, at the top of the table with one hand already on the trophy. NEROCA FC, on the other hand, have now extended their unbeaten streak to seven games and will stay at the bottom of the table, three points behind Rajasthan United. (ANI)