Real Kashmir defeated former Hero I-League champions 2-0 at the JLN Stadium, Aizawl, thanks to some gutsy defensive work and all-round display from Mason Robertson, who was rightly adjudged the Hero of the Match.
Real Kashmir scored their first goal early in the 16th minute through Higginbotham while their second goal came from Mason Robertson in the 82nd minute. With this win, Real Kashmir FC have now moved up to fifth with 12 points from 8 games while Aizawl FC stay rooted to the tenth spot with 8 points from 9 games.
The first half began with the visitors Real Kashmir FC pressing hard for a lead. The English duo of Kallum Higginbotham and Mason Robertson ensured that the Aizawl defence was on their toes right from the first minute.
A few attempts for an early lead by the snow leopards went in vain thanks to the alert defending by the Aizawl defenders and their goalkeeper. However, as the game progressed the visitors tightened the screw and their efforts soon yielded results, when a fantastic pass from Mason Roberston to Higginbotham, saw the latter make no mistakes in finding the back of the net in the 16th minute.
Aizawl did try making a comeback through a counter-attack in the very next minute, but lack of creativity inside the final third kept them away from finding that much-needed equaliser. The game thereafter saw both sides making an attempt to score but to no avail.
Aizawl tried to make a comeback in the final few minutes of the first half but some good glovework from Phurba Lachenpa of Real Kashmir FC saw the visitors maintain their 1-0 lead as the first 45 minutes of the game came to an end.
The second half began with the visitors again pressing hard to consolidate their lead but were not able to convert any opportunity, while hosts Aizawl FC who looked scattered tried helplessly to find a much-needed equaliser. Stanley Rozario made a couple of quick changes in the 57th and 63rd minute bringing in Paul Ramfangzauva and Nigerian attacker Justice Morgan at the expenses of Ramhlunchhunga and Abdoulaye Kanoute respectively.
This did bring in a welcome change to Aizawl’s efforts who earned a handful of opportunities through setpieces but the finesse in the attacking third eluded them the equaliser. David Robertson made an interesting change in the 68th minute, having introduced Cote Di’voireian Gnohere Krizo in place of scorer Kallum Higginbotham.
Eight minutes to the end of the regulation time, this change paid dividends for David Robertson. A mistimed pass from Justice Morgan was intercepted by Krizo and the attacker rounded off two defenders to pass it to onrushing Mason Robertson. The Brit made no mistake in finding the back of the net to consolidate the Snow Leopard’s lead.
Aizawl will have to quickly reassess their plans before they travel to Kalyani to face Quess East Bengal on February 7, 2020. Real Kashmir will travel all the way to Kozhikode to face Gokulam Kerala on the following day (February 8, 2020).