East Bengal on Wednesday paid a heavy price for their defensive lapses, going down to Gokulam Kerala 1-3 ahead of Sunday’s I-League derby in Kalyani.
Playing without their centre-back Borja Gomez, East Bengal conceded their first goal in the 21st minute when an unmarked Henry Kisekka cut in from the edge of the box to slot it past goalkeeper Lalthuamawia Ralte.
The red and golds conceded a second by an own goal by Marti Crespi during the injury time of the first-half while trying to clear a Marcus Joseph shot.
Their defensive woes continued as Kerala’s star forward Marcus Joseph sealed the issue after being set up by Kisekka in the 65th minute with defender Asheer Akhtar and Ralte caught napping.
East Bengal’s solitary goal came in the 27th minute when Kassim Aidara slotted it home from a rebound off the post.
The hosts missed their 31-year-old Spaniard Gomez who has returned home to be with his family as his younger son is suffering from a serious ailment.
For East Bengal, this was their second successive defeat, ahead of Sunday’s much-anticipated derby clash against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
East Bengal lost to Churchill Brothers away in their last outing as they now have eight points from six matches to be placed behind Gokulam Kerala who climbed to fourth with 10 points from six outings.