Imphal, Feb 21 (IANS) Neroca FC pipped Gokulam Kerala 3-2 to come out of the relegation zone in an I-League clash here on Friday.
Pritam Singh drew first blood for Neroca FC as early as the second minute before Shibil Muhammed restored parity for Gokulam Kerala FC in the 25th minute. The visitors took the lead, for the first time, through Nataniel Garcia in the 40th minute.
After the breather, Neroca FC came from behind to equalise in the 48th minute through Philip Adjah. Neroca FC scored their third goal, nine minutes to the end of the regulation time, through Ronald Singh. Neroca’s Pritam Singh Ningthoujam was adjudged to be the Hero of the Match.
Neroca’s initial surge paid dividends very early when a mistimed clearance by the visitors saw the ball land in front of Pritam Ningthoujam who made no mistake in slotting it home in the second minute.
Neroca, with this early lead, continued their pressing game, however, Gokulam showed resilience to keep the scoreboard unchanged.
Gokulam reorganised themselves and thereafter, started attacking the Manipuri boys. Soon, in the 25th minute, a through ball from Marcus Joseph to Shibil Muhammed saw the latter make no mistake in restoring parity for the visitors.
The Kerala outfit took the lead in the 40th minute when a short cross from Marcus Joseph saw Nataniel Garcia shooting a belter of a shot to score their second goal.
The first 45 minutes ended with the hosts trailing 1-2 to Gokulam Kerala FC.
The second half started with Neroca FC continuing their resurgence for the equaliser against a visibly-jittery Gokulam defence. Their efforts soon paid dividends when Sebastian’s throw to Irshad was anticipated rightly by Neroca’s Philip Adjah. The astute striker crafted a beautiful goal in the 48th minute to cancel the visitors’ lead.
Neroca boss Gift Rai Khan threw the last dice with a couple of changes in the final 10 minutes, having introduced Chanso Horam and Siam Hangal replacing Subash Singh and Busai Attila. This change yielded the result for the hosts immediately when Chanso’s cross, which was sloppily defended by Jestin George, landed straight into the feet of Ronald Singh.
Ronald bulldozed the ball into the back of the net to earn the lead for Neroca in the 81st minute. The game thereafter saw Gokulam making a few attempts to score the equaliser but the Orange army saw off the dangers calmly.