A first-half goal from Bazie Armand helped Real Kashmir beat former league champions Aizawl FC 1-0 at the TRC Turf Stadium on Wednesday.
The victory helped Kashmir – who for the first time this season won consecutive matches – climb to fourth in the table. They have 10 points from six matches, while Aizawl after their fourth defeat in seven matches, remained on ninth with just five points.
Playing their fifth match at home – two of which have ended in defeats with just one win – Kashmir started well and should have scored early when Nagen Tamang found Surchandra Singh with a lovely cross at the far post, but to the dismay of the entire stadium, Kashmir’s hero from the last encounter only managed to hit the side netting.
But the home side didn’t have to wait much longer to break the deadlock against a side that had conceded the second highest number of goals – in seven matches Aizawl has shipped in 11 goals, five fewer than Shillong Lajong, who have conceded 16. Bazie rose the highest to head home a Surchandra corner and put his team 1-0 ahead after 31 minutes.
Having fallen behind to a first-half goal for the third time this season, Aizawl showed just the urgency needed to fight their way back into the contest. But lacked the final ball, failing to crossover the Kashmir centre-back duo of Mason Robertson and Loveday Okechukwu, who were alert to keep Leonce Dodoz and Ansumana Kromah at bay for most of the encounter.
Aizawl’s best opportunity came in the second half when Paul Ramfangzauva’s long ranger was somehow kept out by Bilal Khan to maintain Kashmir’s lead intact.
The next best chance came in the 86th minute when former East Bengal striker Ansumana Kromah found himself in an open position after the Liberian striker had done brilliantly to beat goalkeeper Bilal but failed to hit his shot on target.