High flying league debutants Real Kashmir could not continue their winning run against former champion Aizawl FC as both sides failed to find the back of the net at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Mualpui, Aizawl.
With this result, Real have drawn level on points with second-placed Churchill Brothers, but are behind on goal difference, as the head-to-head record between the two teams currently stands at 0-0. Hence, the Snow Leopards are placed third on the 12th Hero I-League table.
In a match with few chances for both sides, Aizawl FC skipper Alfred Kemah Jaryan was awarded the Hero of the Match for his combative performance in the middle of the park.
Aizawl made three changes to the team – Govin Singh, Paul Ramfangzaua and youngster Lalremsanga were slotted into the playing XI; Lalremsanga made his first start of the I-League in the absence of injured senior striker Ansumanah Kromah and Lalkhawpuimawia.
Real Kashmir gaffer David Robertson fielded the same playing XI from their victory against Mohun Bagan.
Aizawl, under their new coach, had a more positive approach to the game as defender Kareem was pushed up the field to pair with skipper Alfred Jaryan and local boy Paul Ramfangzaua. Though Aizawl controlled the match, their attacking moves were toothless as Remsanga found no space against the giant Kashmiri defenders.
Aizawl had the first real chance of the match as Aaron Katebe misguided header landed in the path of Remsanga who was striding towards goal. But the Mizo striker could not find the back of the net as his shot flew past the crossbar.
Real Kashmir found it hard to carve out goalscoring chances in the absence of star striker Gnohere Krizo as replacement Kofi Tetteh had a hard time against Aizawl defence marshalled by Richard Kassaga. The best chance of the half fell to Tetteh but the striker could not find the back after he rounded goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh.
The second half started much brighter for the away team, Tetteh beautifully dummied the ball for Suchandra but the Manipuri’s powerful shot from just outside the box was timely blocked by Kassaga.
Robertson’s side attacked as Aizawl crowded their defence line. Kashmiri playmaker Danish Farooq’s curling effort from inside the box was acrobatically saved by Gurpreet much to the delight of the home fans who thanked the Punjabi goalkeeper with a loud roar.
Neither sides could find the back of the net after 90 minutes. Aizawl attacked in the dying minutes of the game, attempting to collect full three points, but could not split the Kashmiri defence as both scored shared the spoils.
Former champion Aizawl FC are now winless in their last two home matches and will travel to play league-leader Chennai City FC. Aizawl, who are second from the bottom of the table, will have to find their scoring boots soon if they are to win against the league leaders. Real Kashmir have now collected 22 points from, 12 games in their maiden season and will travel to Aizawl’s neighbour Shillong Lajong in their next away match.
Full-time: Aizawl 0-0 Real Kashmir
90+1: Yellow card Abhas Thapa
88: Substitution, Real Kashmir. Abednego Tetteh OFF Ritwik Kumar Das IN
86: Substitution, Aizawl.Kareem Omolaja Nurain OFF Albert Zohmingmawia IN
73: Substitution, Aizawl. Lalremsanga Fanai OFF Isak Vanlalruatfela IN
65: Substitution, Aizawl. Paul Ramfangzauva OFF Lalrinchhana IN
46: Substitution, Real Kashmir. Farhan Ganie OFF Khalid Qayoom IN
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: Aizawl 0-0 Real Kashmir
21: Yellow card Dharmaraj Ravanan
1: First half kick-off
Real Kashmir FC: Line-up: Bilal Husain Khan, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Mason Lee Robertson, Aaron Katebe, Loveday Okechukwu, Farhan Ganie, Danish Farooq, Bazie Armand, Surchandra Singh, Abednedo Kofi Tetteh, Abhash Thapa
Aizawl FC Line-up: Govin Singh Moirangthem, Rochhar Zela, Paul Ramfangzauva, Zikahi Leonce Dodoz, Kareem Omolaja Nurain, Alfred Kemah Jaryan, Gurpreet Singh, C.lalrosanga, Juuko Richard Kassaga, F.lal Remsanga, Vanlalthanga