I-League 2018-19: Mohun Bagan and Gokulam Kerala share the spoils in season opener
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Gokulam Kerala were held by Mohun Bagan despite a spirited second-half performance by the home side...

A game of two halves saw Gokulam Kerala and Mohun Bagan play out a 1-1 draw in I-League at the Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday. 

Henry Kisekka headed in the opener before the hosts piled up the pressure after the restart and found an equaliser through an own goal by Lalchhawnkima.

Former Kerala Blasters striker Antonio German passed a late fitness to lead the line for Gokulam Kerala.  The forward was supported by an attacking band of Gani Ahmed, Salman and Arun Jayaraj. Former Mohun Bagan player Shibinraj Kunniyil started in goal but Suhair VP and Mohammed Rashid could only make the bench.

After making the switch from the Malabarians to Mohun Bagan in the summer, Henry Kisekka partnered Ase Dipanda up front against his former employers. Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty preferred Sankar Roy to Shilton Paul in goal. 

The hosts started in style, as Antonio German beat Arjit Bagui on the left flank before sending a cross into the box. Sankar Roy's punch helped the ball into the feet of Mudde Musa whose shot at a goalkeeper-less goal was bravely headed clear by Lalchhawnkima at the goal line. 

After the initial scare, the visitors settled into the game and looked comfortable on the ball. Britto did well to outfox his marker on the right flank and send the ball into the box. The ball was cleared only as far as Omar Nabil whose powerful strike from the edge of the box hit the post 

Bagan struck the post again five minutes later. Aser Dipanda picked out Pintu Mahata's surge into the box from the left flank. The youngster beat the offside trap but failed to find the net. 

Henry Kisekka had the goal at his bay midway through the first half and it took a terrific goal-line clearance by Abhishek Das to deny the former Malabarian.

Mohun Bagan's possession was finally rewarded in the 40th minute. An Arijit Bagui free-kick from the right flank was coolly headed into the net by Henry Kisekka who refused to celebrate the opener out of respect for his former team.

Shibinraj produced a save to keep out Dipanda's shot and kicked the ball long for Antonio German but the Grenadian failed to beat the keeper from a one-on-one opportunity.

Arjun Jayaraj and Deepak tried to make things happen for the hosts soon after the restart. Dangerous crossed into the box fell to no man's land as German failed to threaten the Bagan backline on his own. Bino George threw striker Rajesh into the mix in place of Gani Ahmed as Gokulam pressed for an equaliser.

A quick-throw in down the left flank allowed German to beat his marker and play the ball into the centre for Pritam. The substitute's shot took a deflection and only yielded a corner but the hosts were threatening to equalise. 

Arjun Jayaraj's shot at goal in the 71st minute created havoc inside the box and a failed clearance by Kingsley hit Lalchhawnkima and ended up in the net. 

Rajesh could have turned match-winner a few minutes later. A drilled cross from the right by Abhishek Das was hit first-time by the Keralite and his shot shook the crossbar before flying out. 

The hosts missed another chance right at the end. Pirtam found Rajesh inside the box whose shot was saved. The rebound fell to Arjun who struck wide. 

An improved second-half display wasn't enough for Gokulam Kerala to pick up three points as both sides shared the spoils at the full-time whistle. 

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