Bengaluru: Gokulam Kerala FC registered a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sreebhumi Football Club to get their Indian Women's League (IWL) campaign underway with three points on Sunday.
Sabitra Bhandari scored the solitary goal of the game in the 67th minute.
Right from the start of the match, it was Gokulam who dominated the midfield and had all the possession but Sreebhumi did ever so well to stand their ground and keep their opponents at bay. Their goalkeeper Rumpa Malik was simply outstanding pulling saves after saves to complete her team's 'Park the Bus' strategy against a much more accomplished opponent.
Gokulam were not short of chances with Daya Devi, Manisha Kalyan, Sabitra, Kamala Devi and Kashmina flocking the final third with quality but time and again, Sreebhumi pulled off blocks and clears that frustrated Gokulam.
The game remained goalless going into the breather, but Gokulam clearly had the upperhand.
In the second half, the tempo remained the same as the Malabarians continued to overload Sreebhumi's final third and Sreebhumi continued with their strategy of defence.
In the 47th minute, Sabitra played Kamala through on goal with a delightful pass and with only the keeper to beat but the veteran could not find the back of the net. Malik came off her line and pulled off a stunning save but the rebound still fell to Kamala, who at the second chance went around the keeper but hit the woodwork.
20 minutes later, however, Sabitra made the best of a melee-like situation in the box to score the goal that will go on to be the winner.
In the latter stages of the match, Kamala's brilliant free kick was kept out by Malik and so was Karishma Shirvoikar thunderous strike.
Sreebhumi showed great heart, defending for their lives but their lack of penetration up front turned out to be the difference on the day as Gokulam Kerala held on to walk away with the three points.
Despite Gokulam's win, it was Sreebhumi's Malik who got the Hero of the Match award for keeping the scoreline to a bare minimum for her team.
Earlier in the day, Bangalore United FC fought off a late fightback from Bidesh XI SC to register a 2-1 win.
DAY 2 RESULTS
MATCH 3: Kenkre FC 4-1 Odisha Police
MATCH 4: Baroda FA 3-0 BBK DAV FC
DAY 1 RESULTS
MATCH 1: Krysphsa 4-0 Kickstart FC
MATCH 2: Sethu FC 5-0 FC Kolhapur City