Home side Gokulam Kerala FC notched up a solitary goal victory over former champions Churchill Brothers FC of Goa in an I-League clash, riding on a first-half strike from Marcus Joseph, in Kozhikode, on Sunday.
Gokulam now move up to fourth on the table, winning half of their eight completed games for 13 points, while Churchill will move a spot down to sixth with 10 from seven games.
In a wonderful gesture, the Gokulam management had declared that the proceeds from the game would be donated to the family of former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal player Dhanarajan, who passed away under tragic circumstances last month, and the local crowd responded with 21,346 turnout even though the official press release stated the footfall to be 25,000.
India captain Sunil Chhetri and star player Sandesh Jhingan bought hundreds of tickets for this game to support the noble cause.
Both sides went into the game suffering losses in their previous encounter. While the visitor's coach Bernardo Tabares rang in four changes, some of them forced, like that of the injury to top striker Willis Plaza, Gokulam's Spanish coach Santiago Varela brought in Afghan Haroon Amiri and Sebastian in place of Jestin Geroge and Salman, who had started the last game.
The first clear chance of the game came Gokulam's way in the 18th minute to centre-back Andre Ettienne. Ugandan forward Henry Kisekka then missed the best chance in the first half-hour, catching Churchill keeper Jaffar Mondal well outside his line, but his attempt at lobbing the keeper missed by a whisker.
The hosts broke through in the 38th minute via their talisman Marcus. Amiri got the assist with a wonderful ball into the box piercing the left-side of the Churchill defence.
The Trinidadian striker gamely followed through and his rasping drive beat Mondal to bulge the Churchill net. This was his fifth goal of this season's league and it duly got him another Hero of the Match award.
A goal on either side of the break powered Real Kashmir to a 2-0 win over Indian Arrows in the I-League, in Margao, on Sunday.
Man of the Match Mason Robertson (18th minute) and Gnohere Krizo (57th) scored the goals for the winning team.
It was RKFC's first win in four matches, helping them to the seventh spot with nine points from seven games.
The Arrows, after their third straight defeat, remained at the bottom with four points from eight matches.
RKFC vice-president Samarth Chatto said, "It's a win after facing a couple of reverses. I am sure it will bolster the morale of the team. The morale was high already but today's win will further enhance it."
"As I have maintained that we learn from our mistakes and improve our game. Improvement is a constant endeavor at RKFC."
Mason, son of coach Dave, put RKFC ahead in the 18th minute.
Mason jumped highest among all the players vying for the ball at the centre of the box and met Brian Mascarenhas' swinging delivery with an accurate header that went into the top right corner.
To increase their strength in midfield, Arrows coach S Venkatesh replaced striker Manvir Singh with midfielder Telem Suranjit Singh in the 43rd minute.
RKFC led by that solitary goal at the break at the Tilak Maidan.
After the break Arrows applied pressure on RKFC, drawing acrobatic saves from goalkeeper P Lachenpa.
Real Kashmir soon doubled their lead when Gnohere Krizo converted a penalty in the 58th minute. Bikash Yumnam handled a goal-bound ball and also received a yellow card for his action.
The second goal was too much for the All Indian Football Federation's (AIFF) developmental side, which ended any hopes of them orchestrating a turnaround.
Gokulam Kerala overcome Sreebhumi by solitary goal
Gokulam Kerala FC registered a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sreebhumi Football Club to get their Hero Indian Women's League (IWL) campaign underway with three points in Bengaluru.
Sabitra Bhandari scored the solitary goal of the game in the 67th minute.
The first half was largely dominated by Gokulam in terms of possession, but Sreebhumi did well to stand their ground and keep their opponents at bay.
The game remained goalless going into the breather, with Gokulam in the ascendency.
In the second half, the tempo remained the same as the Malabarians continued to overload the final third but risked getting caught on the counter. However, the strategy paid dividends not long after.
In the 47th minute, Sabitra Bhandari played Kamala Devi through on goal with a delightful pass and with only the keeper to beat, couldn't convert.
Sreebhumi Malik came off her line and pulled off a 'starfish' save but the rebound still fell to Kamala Devi, who at the second time went around the keeper but hit the woodwork, leaving her to wonder if it indeed was Gokulam's day.
However, a howler from Malik, not long after her heroics served Gokulam the lead on a platter.
A cross into the box that would be easy-pickings for a keeper, she misjudged the flight of the ball and Sabitra Bhandari was there to pick up the pieces.
In another match, Bangalore United Football Club fought off late resilience from Bidesh XI Sports Club to register a 2-1 win.
A brace from Satyabati Khadia gave BUFC a two-goal cushion, but a late strike from Bidesh's Sushmita Jadhav gave way to a nervy finish.