I-League title favourites Minerva Punjab FC suffered a second home loss, this time a 0-1 to giant killers Gokulam Kerala FC at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula on Tuesday afternoon.
With this win, Gokulam Kerala have now astonishingly beaten Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Minerva Punjab FC in back to back games.
Minerva Punjab made four tactical changes in their squad from their previous encounter against East Bengal as Amandeep, Shouvik, Bazie and Rakshit made way for debutant left-back Akashdeep, left winger Akash Sangwan, defensive midfielder Randeep and Nepal International Goalkeeper Kiran.
Gokulam Kerala FC were also forced to make four changes to their squad due to suspension and injury issues. Clearly, the tactical changes made by Minerva Punjab didn’t pay off and Gokulam scored the winner in the 75th minute with the help of a bicycle kick by Henry Kisekka.
Gokulam Kerala FC showed their attacking edge from the very first minute itself as the attacking trio of Kivi, Henry and Salam made life difficult for Minerva Punjab FC defenders. William tried his luck in the 15th minute to give the home side an early lead but his powerful shot was blocked. Minerva Punjab FC’s gameplay was sloppy in 1st half due to the fact that they couldn’t keep the ball in midfield.
The combination of Randeep, Kassim and William weren’t working too well although Minerva Punjab FC attacked really well near 35th-minute mark but couldn’t tickle the scoreboard. Randeep, who was on a yellow card, was taken off in the 40th minute and first team regular Amandeep took his place in defensive midfield. There were a total of 4 bookings which indicates the general play of the first half was pretty rough.
The first half ended with both the teams failing to convert with the scoreline at 0-0.
Minerva Punjab FC tried to control the game from the start of the second half but constant injuries to Gokulam Kerala FC players disrupted their play. The injury break in the game helped Gokulam Kerala FC to organize themselves well as their vicious attacks kept Minerva Punjab FC defence on their back foot.
Finally, the moment of the match came in 75th minute when a short cross by Lakra was taken first time by Henry. The ball hit the crossbar and fell straight to Henry again who scored with a sensational bicycle kick to silence the home crowd.
Minerva Punjab FC then went all out attack in final few minutes of the game in order to find a vital equalizer but both William and goalkeeper Kiran missed the goal post by a whisker in 89th and 95th minute respectively.
There wasn’t enough time for any more attack and referee blew the final whistle. With this win, Gokulam Kerala FC climb to sixth in the table.
With today’s loss Minerva Punjab FC stay second on 29 points from 15 matches, while NEROCA FC remain top with 31 points from 17 matches with only a match to play with East Bengal Club third on 26 points from 15 matches, while Mohun Bagan are fourth with 24 points from 15 matches.