I-League 2023-24: Gokulam Kerala continue to squander points at home

Two brilliant strikes in each half by PN Noufal (35th minute) and Komron Tursonov (81st) helped hosts Gokulam Kerala rescue a point against Namdhari FC in a preliminary league match of the I-League 2023-24 at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday.

Two brilliant strikes in each half by PN Noufal (35th minute) and Komron Tursonov (81st) helped hosts Gokulam Kerala rescue a point against Namdhari FC in a preliminary league match of the I-League 2023-24 at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday.

After the 2-2 draw, Gokulam Kerala FC now have 11 points from six matches, while Namdhari collected their fourth point after half a dozen outings.

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This is the second match in succession that Gokulam have dropped a point as their previous home match with Churchill Brothers ended in a 1-1 draw.

In the strangest of first halves, there seemed to be little in terms of on-ball action for the first half an hour as both teams turned rather physical, which hampered the tempo of the match. But then, PN Noufal scored an opener in the 35th minute with a delightful strike.

The winger went on one of his usual runs down the left flank, before cutting in sharply once inside the box and unleashing a shot at the near post that beat Tenzin Samdup cleanly to give the home side the lead.

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At the other end though Devansh Dabas could have no complaints at fingers being pointed his way for the equaliser. Manvir Singh did all the hard work, dribbling through a host of Gokulam defenders to bear down on goal, but in the end, a slight positioning error from Dabas, who didn’t cover his near post anywhere near well enough, meant the forward could stroke the ball in calmly to draw the visitors level.

Things got worse for Gokulam on the edge of half time, as Palwinder Singh headed in a second, from a delightful Imanol Sadaba cross from the right. The ball left the Gokulam defence flummoxed, and all Balwinder had to do was get his head to it from a mere three yards.

Through the second half a pattern was set. Gokulam were keen to go forward and play with the ball, try and equalise and gain some ground. For Namdhari, it turned into a battle of attrition, and they hacked away any loose ball, as far as they could preferably.

It was a tactic with an inbuilt risk and eventually that risk told. Komron Tursonov has scored many goals in Indian football but it’s doubtful he’s scored one like the scorcher that lit up the EMS. Picking up the ball 35 yards out, the diminutive striker let loose a shot straight into the top corner. Samdup had no chance.

(IANS)

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