Gokulam Kerala FC dropped two vital points in their quest for I-League silverware as the Malabarians were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Kashmir FC here on Monday. Basit Ahmed Bhat''s first-half goal was cancelled by Dennis Antwi''s 24th-minute penalty kick as both teams shared the points. With this draw, Gokulam (23 points) find themselves two points adrift of league leaders Churchill Brothers as of now, but could very well find themselves at third if TRAU wins their clash against Punjab FC.
In an end-to-end first half that saw multiple chances for both sides, it was Real Kashmir that attacked first. The urgency to snatch points from Gokulam could be seen in the Snow Leopards'' game. Real Kashmir played a high line and pressed from the front. That strategy reaped rewards in the 13th minute when goalkeeper Ubaid CK took too much time to clear his lines. Basit applied pressure and pounced on the chance as Ubaid was clearing the ball. The ball ricocheted off the defender''s left foot and went inside the goal to hand the Snow Leopards a 1-0 lead.
In the 24th minute, a late tackle inside the penalty box on Dennis Antwi handed Gokulam Kerala FC a spot-kick. Antwi confidently took the penalty kick and smashed home to make the scoreline read 1-1. Gokulam, spurred by the equalizer, attacked in hordes but for the majority were thwarted away by the Real Kashmir defence. After the half-time scoreline read 1-1, Gokulam upped the ante and went for the kill, playing their usual style of possession-based football, while creating multiple chances.
Although Gokulam dominated possession, clear chances to score goals were rare as the Snow Leopards defended with acumen. Half chances for both teams in the final few minutes of the second half were wasted and at the end of the game, the scoreline read 1-1. With this draw, Real Kashmir are mathematically out of the title race while Gokulam will have to hope that their title rivals also drop points in the coming games on Monday.