Gokulam Kerala FC proved a tough nut to crack yet again as it came from behind to pull off a 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan in an I-League match at the Corporation Stadium on Saturday.
Last season Gokulam had first stunned Bagan away before drawing at home. The score, incidentally, was 1-1 in that game played here last March, too. It was Henry Kisekka who had netted the equaliser for Gokulam then. Seven months later, the talented Ugandan striker scored the opening goal of the match – but for Bagan.
With the Kolkatans completely dominating in the opening half, in which it enjoyed more than 75 percent of the possession, looked like Kisekka’s departure would prove particularly costly for the Kerala club. His goal came with five minutes remaining for the half-time, as he headed in a 25-yard free-kick by Arijit Bagui.
The free-kick was won by Bugui himself, for a needless tackle on him by K. Deepak, who also collected a yellow card. That was only one of the several chances that came the visiting side’s way in the first half.
After giving a scare to Bagan in the opening minute, with a swift run down the left flank by its new signing Antonio German, Gokulam seemed content to play in its own half. Bagan could have been pardoned if they felt almost confident of taking three points from their opening fixture.
But, Gokulam, which showed so much resilience in its maiden season, came roaring back after the break. With the fast improving Arjun Jayaraj and S. Rajesh, who replaced Gani Ahmed Nigam, putting the Bagan defence under pressure, the equaliser didn’t seem far way.
It came in the 71st minute off a splendid counter-attack authored by Arjun, who showed commendable composure and control inside the box. His header could not be cleared properly by the defence or the goalkeeper Sankar Roy. And heartbreakingly for Bagan, its defender Lalchhawnkima deflected the ball back into his own net, much to the delight of the 20,000-odd crowd.
Gokulam Kerala FC 1 (Lalchhawnkima 71-og) drew with Mohun Bagan 1 (Henry Kisekka 40).
Man-of-the-Match: Arjun Jayaraj.