Strikes in the last seven minutes to rally to victory
With seven normal minutes left, they were ahead, but somehow managed to concede three goals and slump to a 3-1 defeat to Aizawl FC at the Corporation Stadium here on Thursday.
There have been several heart-breaking results over the last three months in the I-League for Gift Raikhan’s boys, but this loss has to be at the top of the list. It could prove quite costly, too, since they are in the danger zone.
With just two matches left — that too against Neroca and East Bengal, who are in the top five — Gokulam is in an unenviable position. It has 14 points from 18 games and is placed second from the bottom.
Aizawl has moved to eighth position with this win. It has 18 points from as many matches and can afford to breathe easier, as it is now farther away from the relegation zone.
It really was a creditable win for the north-eastern side, for which adapting to the hot weather of Kerala must not have been easy.
The host had the better of the first half. After forcing as many as three corners within the opening six minutes, it took the lead in the ninth minute, through a splendid free-kick from Marcus Joseph.
The Trinidadian bent the ball in, like Beckham, from 25 yards out, to score what was his fifth goal in his seventh appearance.
Aizawl showed a lot more urgency in the second half. But it was the time-wasting tactics by Gokulam goalkeeper Shibin Raj and Fabien Vorbe — who chose to pass the ball between them instead of trying to clear it — that paved the way for the equaliser.
Substitute Lalkhawpuimawia won the ball to put Shibin under pressure. Then Paul Ramfangzauva, on his second attempt, shot into the empty net.
Five minutes later, Lalkhawpuimawia made good use of a through ball from Ghanefo Kromah. Then, in the final minute of added time, the duo reversed their roles to score once more.
The result: Gokulam Kerala 1 (Marcus Joseph 9) lost to Aizawl 3 (Paul Ramfangzauva 83, Lalkhawpuimawia 88, Ghanefo Kromah 90+6).