I-League: Danish Farooq's winner lifts Real Kashmir to third

Real Kashmir beat NEROCA FC 1-0 at home thanks to Danish Farooq's 42nd-minute winner, moving up to third on the I-League standings.

Real Kashmir and NEROCA FC

Action from the I-League match between Real Kashmir and NEROCA FC.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Real Kashmir FC maintained its excellent home record with a 1-0 victory over NEROCA FC at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar on Wednesday.

Local boy Danish Farooq scored what turned out to be the match-winning goal in the 42nd minute.

The result takes Real Kashmir to the third place on the I-League standings with 22 points, while NEROCA remains in the relegation spot (10th) with 15 points.

Tributes poured in from the stands and the Kashmir squad for young midfielder Ritwik Kumar Das, who missed the match following the untimely death of his father. Chesterpoul Lyngdoh took his place in the XI, accounting for the only alteration David Robertson made to his line-up.

NEROCA manager Gift Raikhan, on the other hand, made three changes. Chanso Horam and Zodingliana Ralte were reinstated in midfield, while Ronald Singh started ahead of Boubacar Diarra up front.

The host threatened early and had the better of the exchanges. The first chance arrived in the seventh minute, when Bazie Arman’s wayward clearance turned out to be a good cross-field delivery for Mason Robertson instead. The Scotsman latched onto it and went for the spectacular on the volley from the edge of the box, finding the side-netting.

Read: FC Goa's Ferrán Corominas: On a hat-trick

A bizarre turn of events ensued four minutes later. NEROCA’s Ousmane Diawara was shown a straight red. The players pleaded his case and after a brief consultation with the assistant referee, the red card was overturned, much to Gift Raikhan’s relief.

NEROCA did trouble the Kashmir backline on occasions. In the 20th minute, Pritam Singh made a good run and after seemingly running out of ideas, he squared it across for Zodingliana, who whipped in a low delivery across goal. Ronald Singh got his outstretched foot to the end of the cross but Kashmir keeper Phurba Lachenpa was alert to the danger and did well to keep it out.

The deadlock was broken in the 42th minute, when Chesterpaul Lyngdoh’s cross found Danish completely unmarked and the local lad made no mistake with his headed finish across goal to put his side ahead.

Danish could have made it two in the dying seconds of stoppage time but was denied by some fine goalkeeping. It was yet another cross-field delivery from Bazie Armand that created the opening, as Danish latched on to it and tried chipping keeper Bishorjit Singh, but to his credit, the NEROCA custodian pulled off an outstanding double save – first getting the sting away from the chip by going full-stretch and second running back towards goal and palming it away, which turned out to be the last piece of action before the break.

The Snow Leopards remained in pursuit of a two-goal cushion, but were denied by a narrow margin. In the 52nd minute, Chesterpaul Lyngdoh made a good overlapping run, coming to Higginbotham’s aid who had been closed down by three orange shirts near the touchline.

The Englishman fed Lyngdoh through with a delightful back-flick, crossing it into the box looking for Robin Singh. The veteran forward won the aerial battle against the 'keeper but his header was cleared off the line in spectacular fashion by Govin Singh.

NEROCA didn’t give up on the chase, and had its moments. Imran Khan tried his luck from distance but Lachenpa was equal to it, making a fine save.

The host, however, was the better team on the afternoon and could have added at least one more. Goal-scorer Danish had a wonderful opportunity on the break and with only the keeper to beat, placed his shot straight at him.

Loveday Okechukwu had a speculative crack from his own half and the ambition almost paid dividends, as his effort landed on the roof of the net, saving the blushes of keeper Bishorjit.

-Oguchi Uche propels TRAU to eighth-

Oguchi Uche scored from the penalty spot as TRAU beat Churchill Brothers 1-0 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Wednesday.

The win took to eighth with 19 points from 16 matches, while Churchill remained fourth with 20 points from 14 games.

This win also helped the team from Imphal complete the league double over the Goans as it had won 2-1 at the Fatorda earlier in the season. This was also the first victory under coach L. Nandakumar Singh after a run of six winless matches since the departure of Coach Dimitris Dimitriou.

The first half of the match was a battle of equals as neither team was able to construct meaningful attack. The first half saw mere five shots with Churchill having four of them but none on target. With a ball possession of 49 per cent, TRAU left itself with a job to do in the second half.

The only major action happened when Dawda Ceesay went through the TRAU defence and left the ball for Socrates Pedro to have a go but his shot went well wide of the far post. The first half ended with both teams tied at 0-0.

TRAU took the initiative in the second half. The first big moment of the half came when a dipping volley from distance by Netrajit Singh hit the post.

TRAU gained in confidence with each passing minute in the half. In the 75th minute, a rash tackle on Princewill Emeka Olariche in the Churchill Brother’s box gave the home team a penalty. Oguchi Uche stepped up to take the spot-kick and he found the bottom left corner to give his team the lead in the 77th minute.

After the goal, the team in red was looking in firm control as it worked the ball around to keep Churchill at bay. Finally, a chance came for the Goan outfit when Willis Plaza found himself in a comfortable position but his header went over the bar.

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