Real Kashmir succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at home to NEROCA FC at the TRC Turf stadium in Srinagar on Sunday.
It was unfortunate that the Snow Leopards had to return empty-handed at the end of 90 minutes as they were the superior side for most of the match. But credit to Odili Felix Chidi (28', 74') who was the fox in the box and made the most of the two chances that fell to him.
NEROCA's head coach Manuel Retamero made two changes to the starting line-up that drew 0-0 against Aizawl with Tondomba Singh and Sushil Meitei getting the nod ahead of Biaklian Paite and Abdul Salam. On the other hand David Robertson fielded the same starting XI for the third successive game.
Kashmir started on the ascendency and looked threatening every time they surged forward with the ball. NEROCA's shot-stopper Mauro Boerchio was called into action as early as the sixth minute when Danis Farooq whipped a shot on target and the Italian had to throw his body in the air to pull off a brilliant save.
The hosts pressed NEROCA higher up the pitch which forced a few defensive errors but Kashmir failed to punish the mistakes.
In the 15th minute, the woodwork came to the rescue of NEROCA when Brian Mascarenhas' corner was headed towards goal by Mason Robertson.
It was against the run of play that NEROCA got the opener in the 28th minute when Ashok Singh's cross from the right bounced awkwardly in front of Loveday Okechukwu which left the defender flat-footed and Felix Chidi made no mistake to score an easy tap-in.
After the lemon break, Kashmir's gaffer opted to change his team's shape as he shifted to a three-man defence sacrificing Muhammad Hammad for wide midfielder Vicky Meitei. His team continued their dominance in the second half as they were able to play quick give-and-goes in the attacking third but NEROCA's backline held the fort.
Chidi showed the opportunistic side of his game when he scored the insurance goal for his team in the 74th minute after a deflection from Aaron Katebe fell to his feet inside the box.
Real Kashmir will look to bounce back in their next fixture when they host Mohun Bagan on November 20 whereas NEROCA will travel to Coimbatore to take on the current league leaders Chennai City FC on November 24.