ULTIMATELY IT WAS TWO goalkeeping errors that became the ultimate deciders in Calicut tonight as Gokulam Kerala FC and Punjab FC played out a nerve-wrecking 1-1 draw.
A heavily contested match saw Gokulam Kerala FC create the better chances over the course of 90 minutes and hit the woodwork twice, and waste a golden opportunity to score the winning goal in the final seconds of the match.
It was Punjab who got the first goal against the run of play when a serious positioning error by GKFC keeper Ubaid allowed Dipanda Dicka to have acres of space in the box with just a defender in tow. Dicka pulled off a great under-pressure move and slotted the ball home from a very tight angle.
Trailing, the Malabarians went all out in the second half. They created chances, missed multiple opportunities by a whisker while Kiran Limbu pulled off some brilliant saves. But ultimately it was Kiran's error which made way for Nathaniel Garcia to find the equalizer.
Not content with a 1-1 scoreline, GKFC kept attempting to take a decisive lead and their best chance came moments before the final whistle when two of their attackers were in the Punjab box with only one opponent player ahead; and they failed to slot home from there, to the shock of all the 15,000 fans present at the stadium.
Watch the whole match here courtesy of the 1Sports Facebook page.
The result is a blow to both clubs. Punjab FC wanted to open up a gap between them and Churchill Brothers (who were held to a draw by East Bengal earlier today) but fell short. They are still second on the table with 22 points from 14 matches; but Churchill are on 20 from 13, so they have a chance to claim the second spot with a win in the next game.
Gokulam Kerala FC are on a run of baf form, having won only 1 of their last 5 matches. They sit at 18 points from 13 games, 7th on the table; and need to pick up points from tough matches against East Bengal, Churchill Brothers and TRAU over the next three weeks to stay clear of the relegation race. The two points they dropped tonight may come back to haunt them if they underperform in March.