Ludhiana: Punjab FC continued their unbeaten run at home and snapped Real Kashmir's three-match winning streak as they came out victorious 1-0 in their I-League 2019-20 clash at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Sunday. Dipanda Dicka's strike was the differentiator as he went to the top of the goal-scoring charts with nine goals in the season - tied with Mohun Bagan's Fran Gonzalez.
Punjab FC now have 21 points from 13 games whereas Real Kashmir have 15 points from 10 games. With the win, Punjab stayed second in the standings while Real Kashmir FC occupy the sixth spot.
Real Kashmir's winter signing Robin Singh had the mantle of leading the frontline as Real Kashmir FC featured in an encounter after a week-long break.
Punjab FC played the first half looking to maintain possession and ended the first 45 minutes with 67 per cent of the ball.
With very less possession, Real Kashmir were left to do a lot of chasing and depended on counter attacks to make something happen. With a lot of game being played in the midfield, it was looking as if the half will end goalless.
However, Punjab FC made the best of the one big moment and got the breakthrough. In the 44th minute, an attack was started by Dicka and he was joined in by Cavin Lobo. Dicka played a beautiful one-two with Lobo and with a delightful first-time strike, he sent the ball between the legs of the Real Kashmir keeper to put his team in front.
As the second half, Punjab FC maintained the momentum from the goal at the stroke of half time and built further pressure on the Snow Leopards. Soon, Dicka again came up with a strong left-footed strike from the edge of the box and it needed Phurba Lachenpa to come up with a diving save on the near post to keep the scoreline intact.
The game then went into a phase where there was not many chances for either teams. Punjab were content in holding on to the 1-0 lead and were sitting back to ensure that Real Kashmir weren't able to string a proper attack together.
With less than 10 minutes to go in regular time, it was second-half substitute Souvik Das who had a go at the Real Kashmir goal from distance with an out-swinging strike. However, Lachenpa was once again up to it and came up with a flying one-handed save.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Real Kashmir got their best opportunity of the match. A ball from the right flank by Mason Robertson found a leaping Bazie Armand's head inches away from the goal but the ball went over the crossbar.