Sreenidi Deccan finally broke their winless form with a tight 1-0 victory over Delhi FC in their I-league 2023-24 fixture at the Deccan Arena on Monday. The win took the home side to 20 points from 10 matches.
Mohammedan Sporting are on top of the points table with 20 points, but they have played two matches less than Sreenidi.
In a goalless first half, both teams strived to gain control rather than do much when they actually had it, with most of the play conducted in the middle of the pitch. A lack of finesse in the final third meant neither team was able to create even a notional half-chance.
The closest either team came was when an errant pass from Delhi FC goalkeeper Naveen Kumar landed right at the feet of Rilwan Hassan merely yards away from him. The Sreenidi forward was caught as unaware as anyone else, and before he could even control the ball, it had bounced away safely back into Naveen’s gloves.
Sreenidi took better control of the game in the second period, dominating play and also locking Delhi’s main enforcer Joseba Beitia out of the game. Hassan had another chance to open the scoring when having collected a cleared header from a throw-in, shaped in perfectly to shoot at goal from inside the box. His effort drifted just wide. A flurry of chances followed for Sreenidi but a lack of composure in front of goal let them down.
It was fortuitous then that when the goal did come it came off a brilliant diving header, albeit by a Delhi defender into his own net. Hassan again at the centre of the action, picked the ball up on the left wing, cut in, and let fly a cross, towards the near post. A backtracking Gagandeep Bali, unsure about his position or the players behind him, dived in to head the ball to what he presumed was safety. It went perfectly into the net.
With the lead secured Sreenidi started playing the safe game, happy to deny Delhi possession, slow the game down, and pick up fouls in key areas. Sergio Barboza Jr almost made them pay for it in injury time, latching on to a brilliantly delivered free kick from Pape Gassama inside the six-yard box. To Sreenidi’s relief, his header flew high.
Real Kashmir 3-0 Gokulam Kerala
Real Kashmir FC exploited a series of defensive blunders to notch up a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Gokulam Kerala FC in the I-League 2023-24 match at the TRC Football Turf on Monday.
The first two goals were a direct result of catastrophic mistakes by Gokulam’s goalkeeper, Devansh Dabas, who fumbled crucially not once but twice. Defender Vikas also found himself in a precarious position, failing to clear the ball timely, which only compounded Gokulam’s woes. Amidst this backdrop of defensive turmoil, Real Kashmir’s Gnohere Krizo emerged as the hero of the hour, scoring a brace with precision and flair. Jeremy Laldinpuia also left his mark on the scoresheet.
The win helped Real Kashmir climb to the third spot in the I-League standings. The Srinagar side have 17 points from nine games, including five wins, two draws and two losses. Gokulam Kerala hold the sixth spot in the table with 13 points from nine games. They have won three matches, eked out four draws and suffered two losses.
Real Kashmir’s standout feature in this I-League season has been their exceptional defensive strength. The defensive lineup, including Muhammad Hammad, Shaher Shaheen, Dion Menzes, and Carlos Alberto Silva, has been remarkably steadfast, a key factor in their impressive record of conceding only four goals—the lowest in the league so far. This defensive prowess was once again evident on Monday, as the Real Kashmir backline consistently thwarted Gokulam Kerala FC’s offensive efforts, effectively neutralising their threats.
The first goal came in the 31st minute, originating from a seemingly harmless back pass by Vikas to goalkeeper Dabas. Caught in a moment of hesitation and failing to clear the ball quickly, Dabas was confronted by Krizo. Using his strength, Krizo overpowered the goalkeeper, took possession of the ball, and skillfully slotted it into the net.
Dabas was clearly having a day off as he committed his second error in the 59th minute. Laldinpuia made a run on the left wing before stepping past his marker Vikas to shoot at goal. Dabas should have easily collected the ball, but he made a mess of it. The ball slipped from his grasp and crossed the goalline as Real Kashmir doubled their advantage.
In just six minutes, Gokulam Kerala’s defence made another costly error. During a spell of passing by Real Kashmir to build up their attack, Gokulam defender Muhammad Saheef tried to intervene by heading the ball towards his teammate, Vikas. However, Vikas failed to clear his line effectively. His inadequate clearance struck Krizo, and the alert forward quickly capitalised on this mistake, seizing the opportunity to score his second goal of the match.