Kozhikode, Jan 12 (IANS) Indian Arrows rode on a late strike from Abhijeet Sarkar to defeat Gokulam Kerala FC 1-0 in an I-League match here on Friday.
Sarkar struck in the 77th minute as the Arrows climbed one spot to the seventh position with 10 points from an equal number of matches.
Gokulam remained second from bottom in the 10-team table with a dismal four points from eight matches. They have lost six of those matches, with a draw and a lone victory.
In a match where scoring chances occurred sparingly, the youngsters from Indian Arrows displayed commendable defensive organisation although they sometimes lost possession too easily in their opponents’ half.
Arrows coach Luis Norton de Matos made made six changes to the starting line-up, putting Boris Singh and Anwar Ali in the defence along with Sanjeev Stalin. Local boy K.P. Rahul was also handed a start.
Arrows took only two minutes to settle down as Aniket bombed one from inside the box which flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Both teams were steaming in their pursuit of some much-needed points but both sets of defenders were carrying out a pristine job to cancel the attackers out.
The Arrows defenders, especially Boris, did a tremendous job to tame the veteran Odafa Okolie and the ace Nigerian striker couldn’t find any breathing space to make a positive impact in the match.
Gokulam’s Salah and Kivi tried to outwit the resilient youngsters from the flanks but eventually, that trick couldn’t earn many dividends for the hosts.
Seconds after the changeover, Arrows’ striker Rahim Ali came very close to scoring the opening goal, but Gokulam goalkeeper Bilal Khan jumped at the right time to get hold of the cross flown by Rahul.
On the hour-mark, finally, Gokulam coach Bino George replaced the off-colour Odafa by introducing Mahmood Al Ajmi.
The deadlock was finally broken by Sarkar in the 77th minute to send the away team dugout into a delirium.
Rahul had a whizzing run down the left flank and tried his luck only for Bilal to palm it away to Sarkar who calmly slotted home to put the Arrows in the lead.
The hosts earned three successive corners in the dying minutes but Arrows custodian Prabhsukhan Gill, who pulled off his maiden clean sheet this season, calmly handed the situation.