Gokulam Kerala on the cusp of I-League title after narrow win over Rajasthan United

25 May 2022 | 08:59 | Football

Gokulam Kerala’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Rajasthan United restored a six-point advantage to the league leaders, at Naihati Stadium. Both defenses were at the top of their game as a hole in Rajasthan’s backline allowed Gokulam to take all three points.

The first chance of the half fell to Jourdaine Fletcher as the Jamaican sidelined a free kick after a Mauro Dos Santos fouled Ahmed Razeek. Fletcher pounded the wall with effort as Rajasthan breathed a sigh of relief.

In the 10th minute, Gokulam’s goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar made a successful save before goalkeeper Alocious scored. The keeper won the race but his reckless header went straight to Biswa Darjee, who blundered his chance because the silly shot didn’t come close to goal.

Ten minutes later, a series of good crosses into Gokulam’s penalty area were very well defended by the leaders of the tournament. On the field, Emil Benny made an extremely dangerous ball hanging in the right direction of Jithin MS. Captain Gokulam headed towards the far corner and beat the opponent’s keeper but couldn’t beat the crossbar. Not long after the miss, Fletcher was tackled by Razeek and smoothly passed the ball inside the box but the striker was denied by Bhaskar Roy.

A foul on the edge of the box created a good chance for Gokulam to score the opener. The league leaders tried to capitalize on it when Razeek delivered a perfect cross into the box and an unmarked Fletcher headed Gokulam’s opener.

Six minutes later, Rajasthan almost equalized from the fifth corner of the game. Anil Chawan headed the ball right in front of goal but Dagar’s footwork kept Gokulam in the lead.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Ricky Shabong’s shot from the right was blocked by Dagar. The original ball arrived Pritam Singh, who has been marked and cannot make contact with the ball. Next up was Abhishek Ambekar, who blew up his attempt in the stands as Gokulam escaped with another shot.

Two minutes into the second half, Fletcher tried to double his season’s total goals but the striker’s effort slipped past the goal and went wide of target. Unable to get into the Gokulam box, Sardor Jakhonov tried to scream. However, the ball was not dangerous enough to go under the crossbar.

High road and pressure from Gokulam did not allow Rajasthan United players to explore the penalty area. As a result, Rajasthan continued to try their luck from afar as Jakhonov tried another long-distance control three minutes after the hour struck.

Sreekuttan VS replaced Razeek minutes before the hour ended and added to Rajasthan’s frustration. The midfielder drew challenges from Dos Santos and Ambekar that both players had to put in the referee’s books.

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A minute later, Dos Santos and Sreekuttan came together again as the player then tried to wriggle past the defender and cross down. The referee did not hesitate to reach into his pocket again and clicked a second yellow for Dos Santos as Rajasthan United was shortened to ten in the final stages of the game.

Scores will not be a concern for Gokulam Kerala as three points have now put them six games ahead of Mohammedan SC with just two games left. Rajasthan United are currently behind Sreenidi Deccan 4 and NEROCA 3, after playing more than one game.

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