Real Kashmir FC made a strong comeback in the second half to play out a 1-1 draw against former champions Punjab FC in their home I-League match on Friday. The 'Snow Leopards' equalised in the 62nd minute through Gnohere Krizo in front of a partisan crowd of 8,500 spectators after Makan Chothe had given Punjab FC the lead in the 21st minute at the TRC ground. After Thursday's draw, Punjab FC are placed third on the table with 10 points from seven games.
Real Kashmir FC remained at eighth with six points from five matches. This was Real Kashmir's third home match on the trot.
The match was a story of two halves as the first belonged to the visitors who enjoyed a 62 per cent possession of the ball, whereas the second belonged to the home side.
Both the teams were looking to gain an early advantage and Punjab FC took the lead after 21 minutes. A confusion inside the Real Kashmir box because of a long ball from Punjab opened up an opportunity for Chothe and he made no mistake as he smashed the ball at the back of the net.
As the fans cheered on, Real Kashmir created a flurry of chances, but none of the home side players could find the back of the net. Punjab were able to hold on to their slender lead heading into the tunnel.
The second half resumed with Real Kashmir pressing high up the field and pressurising Punjab. In the 56th minute, Real Kashmir playmaker Kallum Higginbotham cut through two defenders on the left side of the box and the ball fell to Mason Robertson, whose shot was too weak to trouble the Punjab goalkeeper.
Soon after, it was Danish Farooq who tried a curler from a distance but his shot did not have enough bend to trouble the Punjab goalkeeper.
The home team's effort finally paid off in the 62nd minute. A miscalculated header by Danilo Augusto fell at the feet of Gnohere Krizo, who was one-on-one with the keeper.
He made no mistake in striking the ball into the opponent's goal to score the equaliser.
Real Kashmir were in their groove now, and Kallum came in from the right with a beautiful low cross across the face of the goal but Mason could not get a touch as the chance went begging.
The duo of Kallum and Mason were proving difficult for Punjab to deal with.
In the 82nd minute, a beautiful long ball by Kallum found the head of a towering Mason, but the effort went just over the crossbar.
Within a few moments, Punjab again had another nervous moment as Chesterpoul Lyngdoh's cross from the right side hit the arm of Thoiba Singh but the referee turned down appeal for penalty.