I-League: Gokulam Kerala, Punjab share spoils

Gokulam Kerala secured a 1-1 draw against Punjab in the I-League on Saturday as Nathaniel Garcia scored to cancel out Dipanda Dicka's opener.

Gokulam Kerala FC played out a stalemate with Punjab FC.

Gokulam Kerala FC played out a stalemate with Punjab FC.   -  Twitter/@GokulamKeralaFC

A familiar theme played out for Gokulam Kerala on Saturday night. Fernando Santiago Valera’s boys threatened to score right from the beginning, conceded a goal against the run of the play and spent much of the reminder of the game playing catch up.

They shouldn’t be pleased at all with the 1-1 draw with Punjab FC. If their finishing was a bit sharper, they could have walked away with the three points they badly needed at this stage of the I-League.

But it would not be accurate though to attribute the result completely to the ineptitude of Gokulam’s strikers. Punjab’s goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu could take credit for denying the host on several occasions.

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One of the more spectacular of those came in the 25th minute, off a splendid shot from just outside the circle by Nathaniel Garcia. That was the time when Gokulam was pressing hard to draw first blood.

The trusted firm of captain Marcus Joseph and Henry Kisekka had forced a corner-kick for the host as early as the second minute. The Punjab defence was indeed under constant pressure. But it was the Gokulam defence that crumbled first. And it was rather a silly mistake too, as T.V. Mohammed Irshad allowed the dangerous Aser Dipanda Dicka to sprint into the box after a receiving a long ball from deep inside the Punjab half.

Goalkeeper C.K. Ubaid would not want to remember that moment, either. He had advanced too far and could only watch in despair Dicka score his 10th goal of the tournament. The Cameroonian striker is now the sole top-scorer.

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That goal separated the two sides at half-time. Gokulam was desperate to equalise in front of another good crowd.

Much to the relief of the team and the fans, the equaliser finally came, in the 63rd minute. For once, the hard-working Limbu was beaten under the bar. He could not stop the Garcia, who drove the ball neatly past the Punjab defence.

More chances came in the host’s way, but this wasn’t the night for Gokulam to deviate from a familiar theme.

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