Gokulam Kerala FC kept their hopes alive of finishing in the top half of the table before the next round of the I-League after the Malabarians produced a stellar performance to defeat high flying TRAU 3-1 at the KBK Stadium in Kolkata, West Bengal today (February 13, 2021). An Emil Benny master-stroke in the first half coupled with Sharif Mohammad’s and Zodingliana Ralte’s second-half strikes led the Vincenzo Annese-coached side to an easy win over their opponents, after Komron Tursunov had pulled a goal back for TRAU in the dying embers of the second half.
Gokulam Kerala FC played their style of football by keeping possession and rotating the ball on the flanks from the very start of the match. Crosses into the box for Dennis Antwi and Philip Adjah became a common sight as the Malabarians tried to take an early lead. In the 8th minute, Naocha Singh’s cross was plucked from the air by Dennis Antwi, but goalkeeper Amrit Gope made an astounding save to keep TRAU’s clean sheet intact.
With sparkling quick play around the box, Gokulam Kerala FC tried to unlock the opposition defence. While doing so, they were exposed to counter-attacks, a speciality of TRAU. In the 12th minute, Joseph Olaleye’s cross from the right flank fell to Bidyashagar Singh outside of the box. The midfielder, however, tried to attempt the spectacular, hitting it the first time, but failed to test the opposition goalkeeper. Where TRAU failed, a moment of magic for the Malabarains made them succeed four minutes later.
Vincy Barreto’s cross from the right flank found an onrushing Emil Benny inside the box. Benny produced a moment of sheer brilliance and volleyed it first time into the back of the net to give Gokulam the lead.
Although TRAU lacked creativity up front and Tajik forward Komron Tursunov was isolated on more than one occasion, the best chance for them came in the 35th minute when Kishan Singh’s freekick found Shahbaaz on the far post. Shahbaaz pulled the ball back for the TRAU attack force to take advantage, but neither Komron nor Bidyashagar were around to tap home from close range.
Gokulam Kerala FC were provided a golden chance to double their lead going into half-time but Dennis Antwi’s effort rattled the post and went out in the 38th minute after he was found by a long ball. The half-time scoreline read 1-0 in Gokulam’s favour.
TRAU were dealt another blow in the 57th minute when Sharif Mohammad was found unmarked inside the box after Dennis Antwi flick-on from a corner kick found him inside the box. With ample space and time, Sharif fired from close range into the back of the net to double the Malabarians’ lead.
Not for the ones to sit back and enjoy their lead, Gokulam Kerala FC continued to dominate possession and create chances. Meanwhile, TRAU seemed to suffer from complacency in defending and on more than one occasion, almost gifted another goal. Upfront, chances for TRAU became rare as Tajik import Komron Tursunov was unable to connect with the midfield.
In the 70th minute, Philip Adjah latched onto a long ball from the midfield and tried to chip the opposition goalkeeper. Amrit Gope, however, read Adjah’s intention and made a save to keep TRAU from falling three goals behind. Frantic minutes of play were witnessed next.
In the 86th minute, Zodingliana Ralte bundled home his chance from close range after Dennis Antwi was brought down inside the box, to give Gokulam Kerala FC a three-goal advantage, and immediately in the very next minute, TRAU pulled a goal back as Komron Tursunov’s venomous shot from just inside the box whizzed past the opposition custodian and crashed into the net to make the scoreline read 3-1.
Leading by two goals, Gokulam Kerala FC frustrated their opponents by committing bodies in defence and defending as a compact unit. Unable to play through them, TRAU tried to utilize the wings for crosses but failed to create anything meaningful.
Phalguni Singh almost pulled one back for TRAU after a magical solo run but could not convert in the end. Thus, at the end of the game, the scoreline read 3-1 in Gokulam Kerala FC’s favour as the Malabarians registered their third win of the season.