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Hero I-league : Real Kashmir FC 2-2 NEROCA FC

Real Kashmir FC 2 (Richard Agyemang 10′, Lalnuntluanga Bawitlung 90+4‘)
drew with
NEROCA FC 2 (Jourdaine Fletcher 13′ pen, Richard Agyemang 70′ OG)

SRINAGAR: It was a mid-table clash that promised a lot. Hosts Real Kashmir FC could have gone up to the fourth spot on the Hero I-League table with a victory, while visitors NEROCA could have gone up to the sixth had they won. But none of these happened as they drew 2-2 at the TRC Stadium here on Saturday.

The fast-paced contest started the way the home crowd would have liked as Real Kashmir defender Richard Agyemang scored for the third time in two matches. He headed in a cross from the right by Lalnuntluanga Bawitlung to make it 1-0 in the tenth minute.Conceding a goal so early into the match, there was a real danger for NEROCA to be outplayed. But Wangkhem Khogen Singh’s men took only a couple of minutes to storm back into the match.

Hero of the Match Sweden Fernandes got a defence-piercing lob into the box and Akashdeep Singh could not find a way to stop him from shooting at the goal without bringing him down. Referee Surojit Das did not hesitate to award the penalty. Jamaican forward Jourdain Fletcher’s left-footer sent experienced Real Kashmir goalie Subhasish Roy Chowdhury the other way and parity was restored.

However, it was not long before Real Kashmir midfielder Yakubu Wadudu created a chance to put his team ahead again. Receiving the ball with his back to the goal, he turned superbly to lose his marker and was in a position to shoot. But David Simbo made an incredible recovery to clear it before Yakubu could take a shot.

In end-to-end stuff, NEROCA could have gone ahead too, in the 38th minute. Sweden’s through ball found Bayi Kamo inside the box but Roy Chowdhury used all his courage and experience to narrow down the angle for the forward and stopped his shot. His services saved Real Kashmir once again in the second half, when in the 68th minute, he flung himself to tip Sweden’s long-ranger over the bar.

But Roy Chowdhury could not have done much in the 70th minute, when Agyemang unintentionally deflected Mirjalol Kasimov’s corner from the left flank into his own net. Coach Gifton Noel-Williams quickly replaced Agyemang with Balwinder Singh and sent in Ernest Boateng to bolster attack. Those changes did make a difference to the intensity of Real Kashmir, but the equaliser was just not coming.

NEROCA goalkeeper Soram Porei came to the rescue a couple of times.But late into stoppage time, the NEROCA defence cracked under pressure. Akashdeep’s long cross from the left wing was erroneously headed down to an unmarked Lalnuntluanga Bawitlung by NEROCA’s Nonganba Singh. The Real Kashmir man made it 2-2 with a scorching right-footer.

After this draw, Real Kashmir remained seventh with 23 points from 16 matches, while NEROCA are on 21 points from 17 games on the Hero I-League table.