Kozhikode, Kerala: Gokulam Kerala FC extended their winless run to three months, sharing spoils in a 1-1 draw against the Indian Arrows in a 12th Hero I-League return leg fixture at Kozhikode’s EMS Corporation stadium on Saturday evening.
Rahul K.P. had scored for the Arrows to give them a lead in the first half, but Trinidadian striker Marcu Leric Joseph’s fourth goal in as many games in the second, ensured there was not a repeat of the first leg fixture between the two sides, where the Arrows had run out victors by a solitary goal.
The game did not reach any great heights and both teams gave the impression that they were searching for inspiration, being out of the title race.
With this result, Gokulam stay in the 10th position with 13 points after 16 completed games. The Arrows also maintained their seventh position on the points table, now having 17 points from 18 games.
The Floyd Pinto-coached Arrows, made four changes to their starting XI from the previous game, bringing back Prabhsukan Gill in goal in place of Samik Mitra who had got a start in the game against Chennai. Besides, Deepak Tangri, Rahim Ali and Rahul KP also got back into the side in place of Jitendra Singh, Suresh Singh, and Ninthoi.
Hosts Gokulamn now under the tutelage of Technical Director Gift Raikhan, made only one change, with Suhair getting a start in place of Brazilian midfielder Guilherme Castro.
After an initial spell of pressure by the Malabarians, the Indian Arrows slowly started to find their bearings and like in many a time in this 12th Hero I-League season, took the lead in the 22nd minute of the game through Rahul K.P.
In fact, two of Floyd’s changes combined along with Ashish Rai for the wonderfully crafted goal. Ashish Rai delivered the cross from the right flank towards Rahim Ali, who was positioned inside the box, wide on the left.
Rahim brought down a cushioned header towards Rahul, who was making a run from the centre of the box. The ball landed with the Thrissur born Rahul, having to check his run and with his back towards goal. The young and talented midfielder swiveled and volleyed on the turn to beat keeper Arnab Das Sharma all ends up.
Arrows took the one-goal lead into the break.
Gokulam got the equaliser in the 64th minute through the top scorer of the Trinidadian pro-league Marcus Joseph, who struck his fourth goal in as many games since being drafted in during the January transfer window.
Substitute Arjun Jayaraj had made the initial foray with a run down the left of the box and his ball intended for Marcus was cut-off by the Arrows defence initially. But it came back off an Arrows defender and fell for Marcus who pounced on the opportunity and drilled the ball home with a left-footed strike.
The Arrows had a golden chance to get back into the lead in the 70th minute but Fabian brought about a brilliant goalline save to deny them.
Then in the dying minutes, Hero of the Match Marcus, had another opportunity to seal the deal for the home side but failed to convert.