Reigning champions Gokulam Kerala FC registered a hard-fought 1-0 win over HOPS FC in the 2023-24 Indian Women’s League at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday.

This was Gokulam’s first win in two matches, having played out a goalless draw in their first match of the season against Sethu FC.

India international Anju Tamang’s late first-half goal proved to be the only difference between the two sides, as the Malabarians also climbed to the top of the table with four points from two matches.

Gokulam Kerala head coach Anthony Andrews named an unchanged playing eleven from their opening match against Sethu FC.

In a match that witnessed end-to-end action from kick-off, both teams started well by creating chances, but without being able to add a finishing touch. However, Gokulam Kerala finally found the breakthrough via Tamang in a crucial moment just before the half-time whistle.

Tamang showcased exceptional skill by executing a perfect header from a cross by Soumya Guguloth from the left, directing the ball into the back of the net.

As the minutes ticked by in the second half, the Malabarians retained command of the match by managing to keep the ball in the middle of the pitch. There were a few chances at either end but both goalkeepers exhibited good resolve to keep their opponents at bay.

The 73rd minute saw Shilky Devi enter the referee’s books for a foul on an opponent player. Barring this incident, GKFC showcased good control for most parts of the game, eventually returning home with the three points.

HOPS FC have so far lost both their opening games in the IWL this season on their home ground and will hope to turn things around when they take on East Bengal FC on January 4, 2024, in Kolkata.

Next up for Gokulam Kerala FC, meanwhile, is another assignment away from home, against Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on December 20.