First-half goals from Aser Dipanda and Henry Kisekka meant that Mohun Bagan and Gokulam Kerala had to share the spoils as they ended their I-League season at the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode on Thursday.
Bino George replaced Bilal Khan with Nikhil Barnard in goal after the former's horrendous performance against Aizawl in their last game. In-form striker Henry Kisekka continued to lead the line with Salman and Arjun Jayaraj providing width. Mudde Musa and Irshad formed a solid midfield pairing with the latter slotting in at right back.
Kinshuk Debnath made way for Rana Gharami in the starting lineup of Mohun Bagan as Sankarlal Chakraborty fielded Akram Moghrabi and Aser Dipanda up front. Yuto Kinowaki and Cameron Watson marshalled the midfield.
The Kolkata giants started the game on the front foot and had several good chances to score in the opening quarter of the game. Nikhil Kadam's dangerous cross from the right missed Akram Moghrabi inside the box before the winger saw his deflected effort fly inches wide of Barnard's goal.
Mohun Bagan's dominant start was rewarded in the 26th minute. Watson's stinging shot from the edge of the box struck the crossbar and fell into the path of Aser Dipanda who nodded the ball into the net to open the scoring.
Gokulam Kerala were back on their feet in no time as they poked and prodded the Bagan backline in search of an equaliser. Henry Kisekka once again proved his value to Bino George's side with a poacher's goal just before the half-time whistle. Rana Gharami misjudged the flight of a long ball and slipped at the wrong time to allow Rashid to head the ball into the path of Kisekka who made no mistake from close-range.
Arjun Jayaraj caused havoc inside the Bagan box at the hour-mark as he dribbled with pace before taking a shot at goal. His deflected effort fell to Rashid whose back-heel pass found Jayaraj on the right side of the box once again. The youngster's curling effort was kept out by an alert Shilton Paul who dived low to his left.
Dipanda spurned a wonderful chance with ten minutes left in the game. Arijit Bagui's free-kick from the right found an unmarked Dipanda at the far post but the striker failed to control his header and direct it at goal.
Mohun Bagan piled up the pressure as the clock ticked but Gokulam Kerala's resilience was on display once again at their home ground. Irshad pulled off a stunning goalline clearance right at the end of the match to deny Moghrabi and Mohun Bagan a late match-winner.