New entrants Gokulam Kerala FC scored a goal at the begining of each half to register a 2-0 victory over the Indian Arrows in an I-League 2017-18 match played at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. Daniel Addo (11') and Khaled Alsaleh (64') put their names on the score-sheet for the visitors.
Luis Norton lined-up the Indian Arrows in a 4-4-2 formation with three changes in the starting XI from the previous match as Jeakson Singh and Anwar Ali returned to the side after missing out in the back-to-back games against Minerva Punjab due to conditions in the loan agreement. Striker Aniket Jadhav also made a return to the starting line-up as Rahim Ali, Suresh Singh and Jitendra were relegated to the bench.
Bino George meanwhile rang in the changes for the visitors making as many as six as Bilal, Emmanuel, Santu, Vicky, Usman and Rohit made their way to the playing XI as Gokulum Kerala mirrored Arrows’ 4-4-2 formation with Syria’s Khaled Alsaleh supporting Usman Ashik up top.
Edumund Lalrindika led the line for the Arrows with Aniket and Rahul Kannolly flanking on either wings while Jeakson and skipper Amarjit Singh marshaled the midfield.
Norton’s men started the game brightly as they maintained possession on the ball and Jadhav had a bright opening as early as the fourth minute but the left-footed player’s strike from the edge of the box landed safe in the hands of Bilal Husain after taking a deflection.
The Arrows would be made to pay from a set-piece in the 11th minute as Gokulam’s Daniel Addo found himself unmarked to a Rohit Mirza corner and the defender made no mistake as he buried a powerful and well placed header to hand the visitors the early lead.
The Arrows were neat on the ball but found it difficult to breakdown the Gokulam defence. In fact it was he visitors who could have gone two ahead before the stroke of half-time.
Usman Ashik had two gilt-edged opportunities to double the visitors’ lead, first through an open header and the second after being set free one-on-one with Dheeraj Singh but he squandered both chances as the Arrows went into the break one goal behind.
No changes were made by either coach at the half-time interval and Norton’s men came charging out of the blocks in the second period.
Sanjeev Stalin’s free-kick was well directed and required a great save from Bilal Husain and Kannooly had a great chance to head in from the rebound but the right-back sent his effort sailing over the bar.
The visitors double their advantage against the run of play when Stalin conceded a cheap free-kick on the left-side. Syrian midfielder Alsaleh sent in a curling effort into the box which deceived the Arrows defence and Dheeraj Singh with its flight to sneak into the back of the net directly.
Norton threw in Rahim Ali and Abhijit Sarkar as he searched for a way back into the match but the Gokulam defence held firm in face of the Arrows pressure. The visitors on the other hand were deadly on set-pieces giving the Arrows defence a torrid time with it throughout the ninety minutes.
Edmund wasted a golden opportunity for the Arrows in the dying minutes as the youngsters threw the kitchen sink at Gokulam but there would be no further changes to the score-line as the visitors ran out 2-0 victors.