Kozhikode: In front of 28,400 home supporters, Gokulam Kerala FC played out a 1-1 draw against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in their opening I-League fixture at EMS Corporation stadium here on Saturday.
Lalchhawnkima’s own goal in the second half cancelled out Ugandan striker Henry Kisekka’s header for Bagan in the 41st minute, as match three of the 12th Hero I-League ended in a draw at full time.
Gokulam began with a flurry of attacks with Mudde Mussa creating an opening early but Bagan were the stronger outfit in the first quarter of an hour with the first attempt coming from Egyptian Husseiney and Ugandan Kisekka.
Bagan eventually took the lead in the 41st minute, when Arijit Bagui floated a free-kick inside the box, which met with Kisekka perfectly and his angled-header beat Shibinraj at the far post to hand the away side the lead.
Then there was a drama at both ends in the 42nd minute. First, Dipanda Dicka unleashed a brilliant run inside the box taking out two defenders and his well-placed shot brought about a great save from Shibinraj but landed at the feet of an onrushing Kisekka who failed to control his effort.
Then English born Antonio German, on the counter, found himself one to one with the goalkeeper, but with the pressure from an onrushing defender, he shot straight from just outside the box, into the diving clutches of Roy. Gokulam began the second half with a sense of urgency and in particular, the introduction of Rajesh in place of under-22 Gani Nigam, saw the hosts turn the possession and dominance tables completely.
Gokulam were eventually rewarded for their enterprise when in a comedy of errors inside the box earned them the equaliser. Roy’s weak punch to clear a cross found Arjun Jayaraj heading towards goal. In the process, Kinsley cleared it but it struck Kim Kima on the rebound and went in to send the 28 thousand-odd crowd into a delirium.
Mohun Bagan’s only clear chance of the half came in injury time when Dicka’s header in the 92nd minute went wide. Coach Shankarlal rang in the changes and brought in William Lalnunfella, veteran Mehtab Hussain and even rested Hnery Kisekka in the end for the last throw of the dice with Azharuddin Mallick, but to no avail.