Chennai City FC went down fighting 2-0 against Real Kashmir FC at the Mohun Bagan Ground in Kolkata, West Bengal on Friday.

In a cagey match where chances were few and both teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park, Dipanda Dicka’s 16-minute strike and a late goal by substitute Lalrindika Ralte proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Although Chennai City FC dominated possession for much of the match, Real Kashmir’s counter-attacking style of play earned them the win.

In the 8th minute, Dipanda Dicka tried to squeeze in a header from a cross, but his effort was saved by the opposition custodian. Eight minutes later, the Cameroonian forward connected first time off a Lukman Adefemi cut-back inside the box and smashed the ball home to hand the Snow Leopards a solitary goal lead.

For all their possession in the final third, Chennai City seemed a bit lost in attack with no one able to open the defence of the Snow Leopards. Even from set plays, Chennai seemed unsure of themselves. In the 38th minute, Chennai City’s Serbian import Elvedin Skrijelj tried to equalize from a header off an Iqbal cross, both skewed it over the bar.

Perhaps the best opportunity of the match came for Chennai City FC a few minutes into the second after Real Kashmir had gone into the tunnel leading 1-0 at half-time. In the 51st minute, Raju was found inside the box by a pin-point Mohammad cross. However, despite Raju getting a free-header, the midfielder could only head the ball way off target as Real Kashmir survived.

In an extraordinary turn of events, Dipanda Dicka in the 62nd minute found the net from an impressive bicycle kick making a stamping claim for the highlight reel. The referee, however, cut the celebrations short and ruled the goal offside.

Although Chennai City FC played a very high line and even at one point had 11 men inside Real Kashmir’s half, the ability to create a clear goal scoring chance was missing. Real Kashmir defended in droves. The Snow Leopards committed bodies in defence and even overloaded the ball side with maximum bodies.

In the 80th minute, Demir Advic tried to find a way around Mason Robertson but was thwarted with ease. A minute later, Raju found himself in a good spot to grab an equalizer after a misplaced clearance, but his shot flew wide of the goal.

In the 84th minute, goalscorer Dicka turned provider as he played a through ball for substitute Lalrindika Ralte, who slotted home from inside the box to double Real Kashmir’s lead. Real Kashmir held on to their two-goal lead and saw the match off to register their first win of the Hero I-league season.

No winners in Imphal derby

NEROCA FC were held to a 1-1 draw against Tiddim Road Union Athletic (TRAU) in their first match of the I-League season, the Imphal derby, at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani, West Bengal on Friday.

Varun Thokchom’s 10th-minute strike was cancelled out by Joseph Olaleye’s 15th-minute header as both teams shared the spoils of battle in the Imphal derby.

Derbies have a special feeling about them, the passion and desire to win add more pinch of competitiveness in the field. The Imphal derby which witnessed an end to end action was no different. As early as the 6th minute, TRAU created the first goal-scoring chance of the match when Komron Tusirov ran clear of his marking defender onto goal. The Tajik forced the opposition custodian to make a good save from a tight angle.

Four minutes later, with their first shot on target NEROCA took the lead. A defensive lapse left a huge gap between the two central defenders and Varun Thokchom ran into the vacant space to receive a cross from the flank. The nimble-footed forward made no mistake and slotted past the TRAU custodian to give NEROCA the upper hand in the derby.

The lead, however, was short-lived. In the 15th minute, Joseph Olaleye thunderous header off a Komron Tusirov corner kick grabbed an equalizer for TRAU and levelled the derby once again.

With end to end action ensuing for much of the first half, NEROCA were provided opportunities to go ahead. In the 30th minute, Songpu Singsit’s long shot from outside the box flew narrowly past the goal and seven minutes later Khanngam Horam missed a sitter after he skewed his shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

TRAU’s forward seemed to run out of steam as they were thwarted with ease by the NEROCA defence and both teams went into the tunnel on level pegging as the scoreline read 1-1.

TRAU started much more attacking and positive in the second half. In the 58th minute, goalscorer Joseph Olaleye had a great opportunity to hand TRAU the lead but his effort from close range was saved heroically by the NEROCA custodian.

The tempo in the second half after that chance for Olaleye, dropped significantly as both teams played cautiously. TRAU, with more shots on goal, tried to breach the NEROCA citadel but were held at bay. Meanwhile, NEROCA tried to play on the counter-attack and catch their opponents offside. In the 70th minute, Songpu burst onto goal but a cracking tackle by the TRAU defense left him out of steam as the ball went out for a goal kick.

Both teams cancelled each other out and at the end of time, both teams shared the spoils of battle.