Gokulam FC followed up their excellent result against Mohun Bagan with a 2-1 win over East Bengal in an I-League clash at Calicut on Saturday. Katsumi Yusa (45+3’) had given the visitors the lead before Kivi Zhimomi equalized for the hosts but Salam Ranjan Singh’s own goal (87’) gave Gokulam all three points.
Bino George made no change to the starting XI which famously beat Mohun Bagan five days ago. New recruits Henry Kisekka and Mahmoos Al-Ajmi, who both scored against the Kolkata giants, once again continued to lead the line for the Kerala outfit.
Khalid Jamil meanwhile made the one change to the side that beat Minerva Punjab 1-0. Samad Ali came in for Salam Ranjan Singh in defence while Dudu continued to take up the striker duties up front with Katsumi Yusa, Mahmoud Al-Amna and Laldanmawia Ralte forming the three behind him.
It was the home side who started the match on the front foot and it was Kisekka who was in the thick of things. A driving run by Salman into the box from the right saw the ball fall to the Gokulam striker who quickly sorted his feet out to shoot but his effort went over the bar.
The visitors however, were growing into the game and had a great chance of their own towards the half-hour mark. Dudu played a neat one-two with Al-Amna on the right flank before bursting into the box and getting to the byline. His dangerous cutback though, was cleared well by the Gokulam defence.
Salman was looking threatening on the wings for the home side but it was East Bengal who would go into the break with their noses in front after being awarded a penalty in the first-half injury time.
Nigerian defender Emmanuel Chigozie barged into Calvin Lobo inside the box after the East Bengal man was released and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Katsumi stepped up from the spot and the Japanese made no mistake as the visitors took a 1-0 lead after a frantic end to the first-half.
The home side did not take long to find their equalizer in the second period with Kivi Zhimomi being the goal-scorer. Some good build-up play saw Mohammed Irshad find Kisekka, who in turn released Zhimomi on the edge of the box. Zhimomi made no mistake as he slot the ball past an advancing Ubaid.
Gokulam custodian Bilal Khan tipped Katsumi’s curling effort over the bar a few minutes later. Then, the home side had a great chance to go ahead when East Bengal had a defender down in their own half. The hosts continued to play on and Irshad sent in a dangerous cross after a neat interchange with Zhimomi however Salam Ranjan cleared the ball off the line to avert the danger.
Kisekka then came agonizingly close in the dying stages when he cut inside to his stronger foot and unleashed a curling shot which cruelly rebounded off the crossbar. The Ugandan was denied by the bar once again a few minutes later after a thundering header. However, there would no denying the home side in the 87th minute when Salam Ranjan turned the ball into his own net.
The excellent Salman released Arjun Jayaraj into the box whose low cross across the face of goal was deflected into his own net by the East Bengal defender with Kisekka poised to strike behind him.
There was drama in the dying minutes as Irshad was shown a straight red for his off-the-ball fracas with Kromah while Arnab Mondal was given his marching orders for a second yellow as both sides finished the game with 10 men. After a brilliant 90 minutes, the hosts withstood the late pressure to bag all three points as they claimed a second scalp off a Kolkata giant within the space of a week.