Real Kashmir secured yet another home victory as they defeated TRAU FC 3-2 in the fifth-round fixture of the I-League 2022-23 at the TRC Stadium in Srinagar on Thursday.
In a high-intensity game, where TRAU took the lead twice through Komron Tursunov and Salam Johnson Singh, an amazing solo goal in the second half by Real Kashmir captain Moro Lamine proved decisive as the Snow Leopards maintained their unbeaten run.
TRAU established a low block right from the kickoff and allowed the hosts to dominate the ball as they played on the counter themselves with Komron Tursunov at the helm of affairs. In the seventh minute, Buanthanglun Samte made a run into Real Kashmir’s half and delivered a cross into the box, but it was cleared by Jestin George for a corner. The resultant corner taken by Tursunov found captain Gerard Williams, who could only put his header just over the bar.
Midway through the first half, TRAU settled into the game and kept the ball, foiling the Real Kashmir high press. The visitors gained the lead in the 30th minute. Tursunov made a run towards goal before the Tajik was pulled back for a foul by the home captain Moro Lamine. Tursunov spectacularly curled the resulting free-kick into the top corner as goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury conceded his first goal of the season.
Three minutes later, the Snow Leopards equalised. Nozim Babadzhanov received the ball at the edge of the penalty area and continued his run into the box before slotting the ball into the bottom-left corner to restore parity.
Tursunov remained influential as he pulled the strings for the Red Pythons, looking for outlets and playing multiple through balls for the forwards to chase onto. On this one occasion during the added time in the first half, Tursunov found Salam Johnson Singh who was making a drifting run into the box. The centre-forward finished deftly to regain the lead for the visitors.
Following a rather subpar performance, Real Kashmir head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo made strategic changes at half-time. Issahak Nuhu Seidu, who was ineffective in the first half was replaced by Ibrahim Nurudeen, while Alocious Muthayyan came on for Samuel Kynshi. The visitors restarted with high energy and looked more likely to score another goal but Real Kashmir overcame the early pressure and grew back into the game.
Near the hour mark, Real Kashmir scored two goals in a span of five minutes as the Snow Leopards took the lead in the game for the first time. In the 58th minute, a header from substitute Muthayyan, following a long throw-in by Jestin George, found Wadudu near the penalty spot as the Ghanaian lashed a shot into the goal beating TRAU’s goalkeeper Loitongbam Bishorjit Singh comfortably.
Five minutes later, the Real Kashmir captain Lamine went on a charge. The Ghanaian centre-back made a run from his own 18-yard box to the opponent’s box catching his rivals off-guard. Lamine then used the substitute Nurudeen’s run as a decoy as he launched a shot from long-range beating the goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh, who struggled to keep the ball out of the net.
Tursunov was in the thick of things again in the 83rd minute, standing behind the deadball on the edge of the penalty area. However, the Tajik’s powerful strike went just over the bar. Four minutes later, Samte’s cross found substitute Baoringdao Bodo free in the box but he put his header off target. TRAU got many opportunities to equalise but failed to capitalise on them as the hosts took the three points.
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