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I-League: Gokulam hold Neroca FC to 1-1 draw


IANS Imphal
Gokulam Kerala FC held Neroca FC to a 1-1 draw to break their jinx and bag their first-ever point at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Wednesday.
Local boy Baoringdao Bodo opened the scoring for the visitors at the stroke of the half-time but Eduardo Ferriera (59th minute) nipped in a perfect equaliser to open their tally in the 12th edition of the I-League.
Newly-appointed Neroca FC boss Manuel Fraile introduced two changes from the last match as Varney Kallon, who was injured, made a comeback in his usual position while Ronald made his first start of the season.
On the other side of the pitch, Bino George made as many as four changes in the starting line-up. He brought in Rashid K, Pritam Singh, Monotosh and Rajesh S who had a spectacular game against Mohun Bagan.
The hosts came to the pitch at the back of a loss to East Bengal whereas the visitors travelled all the way to Imphal having gathered much-needed gusto against the Mariners.
In the 13th minute, Subash Singh rushed into the box with the clear intention to find the back of the net but the Ortiz came to his team's rescue. Five minutes later, the Neroca FC attacker got another opportunity to open the goalmouth but following a melee in the box, the chance got wasted for them.
At the stroke of the half-hour mark, Malem Meitei put in a long ball for Aryn Williams who wasted what might have been the best opportunity for the hosts in the first half.
The long ball by Meitei landed perfectly on the head of the Aussie but he failed to connect it on time which resulted in nothing more than a goal kick for the visitors.
Bino George, in the 35th minute, introduced Bodo which turned out to be the perfect master-stroke by Gokulam Kerala FC manager. The Manipuri lad ripped the Neroca FC defence apart within 10 minutes of coming on the pitch to shut the noisy crowd.
The move started from the back when skipper Musa rolled it to another local lad Pritam Singh, who flummoxed the Neroca defenders to put in a nippy ball for an onrushing Bodo who made no mistake to rattle the back of the net leaving the goalkeeper Boerchio stranded.
After the changeover, the hosts shifted gear to push the Keralites on the backfoot. The Manipuri side tweaked their strategies and started putting more pressure on the Gokulam Kerala FC defenders.
Their Nigerian striker Felix Chidi had a spectacular run down the left flank before bombarding a shot from inside the box which was thwarted by Daniel Addo. On the rebound, Aryn Williams tried to sneak in but his effort went waste.
Three minutes later, Pritam had a rusty challenge on Ronald Singh which eventually helped the hosts get the hard-fought equaliser.
Subash Singh glided a long free-kick to the far end of the D-box and Tondomba headed it down to Malem whose side-footed volley was steered in beautifully by Brazilian defender Eduardo Ferreira to provide the Neroca FC dugout with much-needed respite.
Bino George, in their pursuit of the winning goal, brought in Suhair VP seven minutes to the final whistle but to no avail.
Neroca goalie Boerchio made some pivotal saves in the dying minutes of the match to secure their first point of the Hero I-League 2018-19 season. Suhair, in the 89th minute, took a 360-degree turn and unleashed a shot from close but the goalie never let it go out of his reach.
In the next minute, Pritam took his own time to slot in from outside the 6-yard box but Boerchio, thanks to his immaculate positioning, made it look a routine save to cut the scorer's job short.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Oct 31 2018 | 6:00 PM IST

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