Debutant Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC and Real Kashmir FC played out an exciting 2-2 draw at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, Manipur, earning the home team its first-ever point in the I-League.
The visitor ended the first half a goal to the good, but the host fought back admirably after conceding, reaping rich rewards in the second half and even taking the lead at one point before parity was restored in the game.
Mason Robertson scored a brace for the visitor while Nigerians Emeka Princewill and Patrick Uche scored apiece for TRAU.
TRAU dominated possession in the first half and the combination and movement of Premjit Singh on the right flank and Falguni in the middle was particularly pleasing to the eyes. However, Kashmir coach David Robertson’s strategy of crowding out his half of the pitch with trusted defensive-minded players and looking to find his tall frontmen with long balls played dividends as TRAU found it tough to penetrate.
The goal in-fact came against the run of play. Before that, Kashmir had only two long-range efforts, one from Zambian Aaron Katebe in the 17th minute and another from Mason Robertson, a minute before he struck.
Mason, a traditional centre-back, reposed his coach-cum-father’s faith in playing him upfront yet again, when he dispossessed Sandeep Singh at the heart of the TRAU defence and broke inside the box, all the time going away to the right from an onrushing Deepak Devrani, before unleashing a crisp right footer across the goal to beat Mithun Samanta.
TRAU continued to press for an equaliser but could not prize open Phurba Lachenpa’s goal till the end of the half.
It did so as late as the 78th minute of the second half, when a measured cross from left-wing back Denechandram Meetei, saw Emeka meet it with a bouncing header, beating Lachenpa for the first time in the match.
Fellow Nigerian Patrick Uche then beat him for the second time in the 82th minute, this time from a free-kick which got an unfortunate deflection from Mason, wrong-footing the keeper.
The Scot ensured that the host did not enjoy its lead for more than a minute. From another wonderful cross from Danish Farooq from the left, Robertson rose perfectly to lob a header over Mithun to cancel out the host's lead.
Following the draw, Kashmir remains ninth on the table having bagged a couple of points from as many games while TRAU moves up a place to tenth with a solitary point from four matches.
Commenting on the contest, Real Kashmir FC co-founder Sandeep Chattoo, said: “It was a good game and my compliments to TRAU. As far as RKFC is concerned, we have to ensure that we will soon open up our winning account and march ahead in the I-league season. And the upcoming home game on December 26 will boost the team’s morale.”
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