Debutante Real Kashmir on Sunday continued their unbeaten run with a 2-2 draw against Indian Arrows to leave the I-League title race tantalisingly poised in Bhubaneshwar.
After 75 minutes of goalless football, the match sprung into life as four goals were scored in the final 15 minutes at the Kalinga Stadium.
Indian Arrows’ Amarjit Singh (78th minute) found the target from the penalty spot before Kofi Tetteh (82nd) restored the parity for Real Kashmir from a well-taken corner by Vicky Meitei.
Mason Robertson (90th), who was lurking in for long, then earned the lead for the visitors only to lose it within 60 seconds when KP Rahul headed an Anwar Ali corner home.
Following the result, Real Kashmir took the second spot on the table with 33 points from 17 matches, while Indian Arrows reclaim the seventh spot with 18 points from 19 matches.
The Srinagar-based team is still four points away from table-toppers Chennai City (37) with just one match to go. Real Kashmir FC now faces East Bengal at home in their last outing.
Chennai, on the other hand, still have two matches to play – one against Mohun Bagan and other against Churchill Brothers.
Real Kashmir will hope to receive full points from their match against defending champion Minerva Punjab, who had pulled out citing security concerns following the Pulwama terror attack.
Minerva had asked the All India Football Federation to postpone the game, which the governing body refused, prompting the team to approach the High Court. AIFF has referred the matter to its I-League Committee and a decision on it is pending.
In the match, Arrows coach Floyd Pinto made as many as seven changes from their last game against Gokulam Kerala FC handing Boris, Narender, Suresh, Ninthoi, Akash and Rohit Danu another start in the ongoing I-League.
Moreover, he opted to bring Lovepreet Singh replacing Prabhsukhan Gill under the woodwork. On the other hand, Real Kashmir coach David Robertson didn’t feel to tweak his strategies having fielded the same starting eleven.
The yellow outfit could have taken an early lead in the 19th minute through Danish Farooq but the 22-year-old attacker blew it over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, the visitors came very close to opening the scoreline once again from Surchandra’s corner. The corner landed deep in the penalty box and it was laid off to Bazie, whose feeble touch was cleared off by Lovepreet comfortably.
Mason, the regular centre-back, was deployed a bit up by the gaffer in their quest to breach the Arrows defence and he outran Sanjiv in the left flank only to see his effort hit the side-netting.
After the half-hour mark, Arrows started to show some urgency but the lack of penetration failed the youngsters till the end. Indian Arrows will clash with Mohun Bagan on February 28.