Mumbai City FC and I-League side Gokulam Kerala FC played out an entertaining draw at the Mumbai Football Arena as both sides garnered some important pre-season minutes. Paulo Machado opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick in the first half but Marcus Joseph’s penalty in the second half got the away side back on level terms. In the midst of all this, Gokulam centre-back Jestin was sent-off just after the hour mark.

MCFC XI: Amrinder Singh (C) , Souvik Chakrabarti, Mato Grgic, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Sourav Das, Paulo Machado, Mohamed Larbi, Rowllin Borges, Modou Sougou, Amine Chermiti.

GKFC XI: Ubaid CK, Ravanan, Irshad, Jestin, Sebastian, Naocha, Rashid, Mayakannan, Bruno Pelissari, Henry Kisekka, Marcus Joseph ©.

With the stands open to fans for the friendly encounter, the Islanders faithful came out in good numbers to support their favourite team and made themselves heard throughout the 90 minutes.

The encounter started on a quick note with both sides vying for possession in the early minutes of the game. The two assistant referees were probably the busiest men on the pitch in the opening minutes with multiple offsides from both sides while trying to break each other’s defence. 

The first real threat came from GKFC after Marcus Joseph got into the box and went for goal. His left-footed effort was easily saved by Amrinder Singh in goal. The game slowly opened up with birthday boy Mato Grgic heading just off target in the 22nd minute.

Just a couple of minutes later, Souvik Chakrabarti’s cross found Machado’s run in the box but his header also flew over the crossbar. Just at the half an hour mark, Rashid got past the Islanders’ backline and tried to score from a very tight angle but fortunately for Amrinder & co. it went across the goal.

Subhasish Bose got his name in the referee’s book after pulling back the opposition. In the 37th minute, Paulo Machado showed good footwork to win a free-kick in a dangerous position just at the edge of the area. The Portuguese midfielder stepped up and curled the ball past a diving Ubaid who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out. His iconic Moustaki Walk followed his stunning freekick and the fans enjoyed every bit of it. 

With half-time approaching, the Islanders nearly doubled their lead. Machado’s corner found Amine Chermiti in the box who hit the post with a first time shot. That brought an end to the action with plenty of talking points for both sides after the first 45 minutes.

The second half saw the away side create the first chance as Mayakannan tested Amrinder from 20 yards out with our No.1 tipping the ball over the crossbar. In the 52nd minute, Modou Sougou’s pace on the right wing was too much for the full-back, he sent across a flat cross for Chermiti whose glancing header went agonisingly close to the far post.

Joseph nearly equalized for GKFC but Subhasish’s last-ditch tackle denied the striker from 10 yards out. The goalscorer Machado almost added to his tally with a long-range effort which went over the crossbar. With the game heating up, Sarthak Golui got himself booked for a bad challenge in the 61st minute.

The Boss Jorge Costa made a triple substitution just after the hour mark as Raynier Fernandes, Bipin Singh & Diego Carlos came on for Machado, Chermiti & Mohamed Larbi. Just a minute after this, Jestin was given his marching orders for picking up a second yellow on the night. The away side were down to 10-men. 

With just a quarter of the game left, GKFC won a penalty in the 66th minute after Grgic was deemed to have fouled Marcus Joseph in the box. Joseph took responsibility and slotted the ball from the spot to make it 1-1 at the Arena. The Islanders came very close to an immediate response after Bipin’s looping effort that forced a good diving save from Ubaid.

With plenty of time left, Jorge Costa made a double switch - Surchandra Singh & Bidyananda Singh replaced Rowllin Borges & Sourav Das. The Islanders had another chance to get back in front, Bipin’s quick-feet helped him get past the right-back and send in a floating cross. Grgic got at the end of it but couldn’t keep his header on target.

There was a small scuffle between the two sides with Joseph and Pelissari receiving yellow cards for their role. Both sides made changes, Pranjal coming on for Raynier and Lalromawia replacing Mayakannan respectively. In the end, the Islanders tried their all to come out victorious but couldn’t take their chances well.

A decent outing for both sides in an important pre-season encounter with a 1-1 draw to take back.