In what was a closely fought match, Mohammedan SC beat Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani, West Bengal on Monday in the I-League 2020-21. John Chidi Uzodinma scored the opener for the Black Panthers and Hero of the Match Asheer Akhtar added a second as Sharif Mukhammad's long-range strike late in the game only proved to be a consolation.
Mohammedan SC made three changes from their goalless draw with Neroca FC, bringing in Shilton D'Silva, Nikhil Kadam and John Chidi Uzodinma as they looked to return to winning ways. Gokulam Kerala returned with the same starting line from their goalless draw back in Round 5 against Real Kashmir.
The first chance fell to Gokulam Kerala in the second minute when Mohammedan custodian Shubhum Roy dropped Deepak Devrani's corner, but none of the Gokulam Kerala attackers could pounce on the loose ball. Gokulam showed quick passing in the attacking half as the kept on creating chances but were unable to threaten the keeper after the early scare.
It took almost ten minutes for the Black Panthers to build their first dangerous attack, and they immediately came inches from scoring the opener when Hira Mondal broke through and his bullet strike struck the top of the crossbar.
Gokulam won a free-kick in the 15th minute, however, Sharif Mohammed's long-ranger bounced wide of the goal. Two minutes later, Philip Adjah latched onto Emil Benny's inch-perfect forward pass but Kingsley Eze brilliantly blocked his strike. Both teams kept throwing punches at each other with dangerous-looking attacks in the first half-hour, but could not open the scoring.
Phillip adjah latched on to a long pass in the 29th minute but his cutback cross was read and intercepted by Shubham Roy. The Malabarians created their best chance until then when Sharif Mohammed found Jestin Geroge in the 36th minute. However, the defender's header had no direction and went safely into Shubham Roy's grateful hands.
The opener finally came in the 41st minute and it was Mohammedan SC who took the lead. Faisal Ali received the ball outside the area and took a touch before releasing a through-ball which was blasted into the roof of the net by John Chidi. Vincenzo Alberto's men tried to respond immediately but the Black Panthers held out and went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Gokulam Kerala returned strongly in the second half and immediately created a couple of chances through free-kicks. In the 46th minute, Shubham Roy was unable to hold on to Sharif Mohammed's dipping freekick. Luckily for the Mohammedan side, the loose ball was scraped out for a corner. Two minutes later, Roy punched out another free-kick and this time the rebound fell to Jestin, who volleyed his shot wide.
Mohammedan had a chance to punish the Malabrians and double their lead in the 58th minute. However, the Gokulam Kerala custodian Ubaid CK brilliantly tipped over Faisal Ali's close-range header and keep Malabarians in the game. However, his efforts went in vain as the Black Panthers doubled their lead in the 67th minute.
Sebastian Thangmuansang stretched in order to intercept Gani Ahmmed Nigam's dipped cross from a free-kick from the left flank. But, all he did was set the ball perfectly into the path of Asheer Akhtar, and the defender made no mistake in putting it past Ubaid in the Kerala goal.
Nine minutes later, Sharif Mohammed pulled one back for Gokulam Kerala in the 76th minute. Dennis Antwi tried to find some space in the area but could only cut it back to Sharif. The Afghan defender then struck a curling long-ranger to beat Shubham Roy and give his side a ray of hope.
Gokulam Kerala FC kept threatening the Mohammedan defence as Naocha Singh forced Shubham Roy into making a low save in the dying minutes of the game. Despite Gokulam's late efforts, Jose Hevia's side held on for just their second victory of the season and as a result, they broke their four-match streak of draws.