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Kallum Higginbotham steals the show against Chennai City FC

11:29 EAT 26/12/2019
Real Kashmir
Chennai City's winless streak stretches to four games...

Real Kashmir edged past reigning champions Chennai City FC 2-1 in their first home game at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar on Thursday afternoon. 

Danish Farooq (22') opened the scoring and Bazie Armand (27') doubled the lead for Kashmir. Whereas, a strong start to the second half saw Chennai City reduce the deficit through Jockson Dhas (48').

It was a game of two halves. If the hosts were more authoritative in the first half then Akbar Nawas' men should earn the plaudits for making a strong comeback in the latter half. It must be noted that the Lions were without the services of Pedro Manzi, Sandro Rodriguez and Adolfo Miranda and things could have panned out differently if their full strength Spanish armada had taken the pitch. 

Meanwhile, Real Kashmir, making the most of their home advantage were dominating proceedings right from the first whistle. Chennai City looked a bit disarrayed and kept losing possession in dangerous areas of the pitch.  

The first significant chance of the match came in the 12th minute when Higginbotham brushed aside Ajith Kumar and set up Mason on a plate. But the Scottish striker could not convert from close range. 

But the Snow Leopards soon drew first blood when Farooq scored in the 22nd minute. Higginbotham, who hails from the British isles, delivered a curling free-kick inside the box and the local boy timed his jump to perfection before heading the ball past Nauzet Santana. 

Kashmir got their insurance goal within five minutes as Chennai City's defence was once again caught napping. Higginbotham continued to be in the thick of action as he swung in an inch-perfect cross from the left flank with Bazie Armand as his target-man. The former East Bengal midfielder leaped higher than his marker Charles Lourdusamy to head home Kashmir's second. 

Robertson's men did not put their foot off the pedal and continued in their quest for extending the lead. 

In the 39th minute, Mason came agonizingly close to trouble the scorers once again but his shot went inches wide off the far post.

Chennai City came out all guns blazing from the beginning of second half. They even pulled one back in the 48th minute when Pravitto Raju's brilliant backheel fell for Jockson Dhas and the midfielder rifled the ball past Phurba Lachenpa under the sticks. 

Chennai's sleek passing was troubling Kashmir and the hosts seemed to be at their wit's end to contain their opponent's sudden resurgence. 

In the 68th minute, Kashmir got their first sight of goal in the second half when their British midfield magician poured in another delightful cross from a set-piece but Loveday Okechukwu's shot from six yards sailed over the crossbar. 

Nawas started to pour men forward as in a bid to level the scores. When Kashmir decided to sit deep and hold their fort, the men in orange started bombarding the goal with long-range efforts. Lourdusamy and Eslava did not miss the target by much but their attempts were not testing Lachenpa. 

Real Kashmir will once again return to action on January 5 when they host Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, whereas Chennai City will look to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns against Gokulam Kerala away from home.