Taking advantage of the home conditions, Real Kashmir on Thursday scored their first victory of the ongoing I League season with a 2-1 defeat of the defending champion Chennai City.
Chennai City, despite not hitting full throttle in the league yet, made just one change. Akbar Nawas named Pradison Marivadasan in his starting eleven, with Bijay Chhetri making way for him. Back in front of their Srinagar faithful, it was Kashmir who kicked-off proceedings, being firmly in the driving seat. Their quick and fluidic, yet disciplined passing and movement was almost too much for Chennai to handle in the early stages.
Danish Farooq (22nd minute) and Ivory's Bazie Armand (27th) scored for the winners while Syed Suhail Pasha was the lone scorer for the visitors as he found the net in the 48th minute.
Real Kashmir had drawn their away matches against Kolkata giants East Bengal and Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) of Imphal before taking on the Holders.
The win takes Real Kashmir to seventh place in the Hero I-League standings with five points, while the defending champions drop to eighth place with the same tally, but with an inferior goal difference of -2.
I-League in Kashmir: Unable to watch, many fans return dejected
Kashmir hosted its first football match post August 5 with Real Kashmir Football Club defeating defending champions Chennai City in the I-League on Thursday but a large number of fans returning dejected, not able to watch the game.
Hundreds of RKFC fans turned up at the TRC astro turf stadium in Srinagar in the hope of watching their favourite players in action but were disappointed on knowing that the entry to I-League fixtures was no more free of charge.
Although many fans were let in after they purchased Rs 50 tickets, the security apparatus then restricted the number of people going inside.
RKFC officials said more than 2000 fans watched the home team triumph over the defending champions by the odd goal in three.
It was also the first I-League match in Srinagar since the Pulwama suicide attack of February 14 as teams had refused to turn up here due to apprehensions about security.
The last home game of RKFC was on February 6 against Gokulam Kerala as Minerva Punjab refused to travel to Srinagar to play their match on February 18, four days after the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack on a CRPF convoy.
It was also the first major sporting event in Kashmir after the August 5 abrogation of Article 370 provisions but not many fans were expected to show up as the internet services are suspended in Kashmir and there was very little publicity given to the league fixture.
The large number of fans who turned up for the match gave the security personnel who were deployed in large numbers a tough time but they ensure that the game passed off smoothly.
Among those who watched the game was BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav who expressed happiness over RKFC's victory.
"I am an RKFC fan and I am happy that they won. I hope they win the remaining matches as well and lift the trophy this year," he said.
RKFC were scheduled to play their first home game of this season on December 12 but the match had to be postponed due to bad weather.
FC Goa survives Chennaiyin resurgence in goal fest
FC Goa regained the top spot in the Hero Indian Super League after trumping Chennaiyin FC in an edge-of-the-seat contest that ended 4-3 in favour of the visitors in Chennai on Thursday.
First-half goals from Ahmed Jahouh (26'), Brandon Fernandes (41') and Hugo Boumous (46') set the Gaurs on their way. Chennaiyin threatened to come back with goals from Andre Schembri (57') and Rafael Crivellaro (59') but Ferran Corominas (63') added a fourth for Goa before Crivellaro managed to get another goal back in injury time, setting up a grandstand finish.
However, Sergio Lobera's team held on to seal the win.
FC Goa head the table with 21 points from 10 matches whereas Chennaiyin's loss has left them at eighth with nine points after as many games.