A combination of injuries and the need to stay clear of Shillong Lajong forced Bino George to make five changes to the lineup that lost 1-3 to Aizawl. Arnab Das replaced the injured Shibinraj in goal.
Deepak K, Daniel Addo, Lalmuankima Haunhar and Ejiogu Emmanuel also featured in the first team.
Manuel Retamero made two changes to the team that lost 0-1 to Minerva. Varney Kallon and Naorem Singh were replaced by Varney Kallon and Roshan Singh.
Gokulam Kerala were on the front foot for most of the first half, with striker Marcus Joseph acting as the lynchpin in and around the NEROCA box.
The hosts had multiple shots on target but they were all straight at the goalkeeper. Marcus did beat the goalkeeper when he curled the ball towards a goal from a short corner in the eighth minute but his effort missed the far post by a whisker.
NEROCA struck the decisive blow of the half, tearing the attack-minded hosts apart with a move down the right flank in the 23rd minute. Malemnganba Kshetrimayum beat his marker and delivered an excellent cross into the box, which Felix Chidi tapped into the net from the centre.
Arjun Jayaraj and Haunhar helped Marcus Joseph and Emmanuel Ejiogu test Lalit Thapa as Gokulam Kerala took control of the midfield but clear-cut chances were few and far between.
It took just 50 seconds for Gokulam to equalise after the restart. Marcus Joseph spotted Daniel Addo's run from midfield and played a simple pass to his feet. The defender, who slotted seamlessly into a defensive midfield role against NEROCA, unleashed a terrific strike into the corner of the net.
Emmanuel had a good chance to score before the hour-mark when he was played through on goal and with just Lalit Thapa to beat, the striker hit the side-netting.
After failing to beat Thapa in the first half, Marcus Joseph's shot finally found a way into the net. Daniel Addo picked out the forward's run with an excellent lob over the defence and Joseph struck neatly into the net to secure three points for the Malabarians.