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Snow Leopards hunt down Mohun Bagan

Kolkata, Jan 6: In a confidence-boosting move for football fans in Kashmir, Debutants Real Kashmir FC humbled heavyweights Mohun Bagan 2-1 at their own turf to move to the third spot with 21 points in the ongoing I-League on Sunday.

RKFC, known back home as ‘Snow Leopards’, played its fifth away match against Mohun Bagan at Salt Lake Stadium here.

The visitors scored two goals in the game, both by defender Mason Robertson, who was playing as a striker in place of Gnohere Krizo.

The game started at 2 pm and initially saw domination by both the teams. But it was Real Kashmir that started making inroads after the team shifted to attacking line.

It was in the 33rd minute of the game when Mason beat Mohun Bagan defender Arijit Bagui in an aerial battle and headed home a cross floated in by Surchandra Singh.

Bagan started pressing with more urgency after conceding and kept knocking on Kashmir’s door for the equaliser.

It was Norde who brought the Mariners back into the game with a sublime free-kick that flew into the top corner.

The second half started on a more even keel as Real Kashmir started pouring men in the attacking third.

On the hour-mark, Mason delivered an inch-perfect cross for Bazie Armand but the defensive midfielder could not keep his header on target.

Bagan got a number of set-piece in dangerous positions on the pitch but could not make them count.

In the 73rd minute, Mason scored his second after he was played through by Abednedo Tetteh. It was one gem of a strike from the Scottish player, who brushed aside Abhishek Ambekar and fired a shot at goal which beat Shilton under the sticks.

Bagan coach, Sankarlal Chakraborty preferred for five changes in the squad as Aser Dipanda, Sankar Roy, Darren Caldeira, Azharuddin Mallick and Gurjinder Kumar were axed from the starting line-up.

Sony Norde made a comeback after injury and slotted in at the left flank whereas Henry Kisekka started up front as the lone striker.

For Real Kashmir, Mason was reinstated in the starting line-up and Gnohere Krizo was left out of the matchday squad.

Norde was showing flashes of brilliance whenever he got on the ball. RKFC captain Loveday Okechukwu and defender Aaron Katebe were given the responsibility to mark the Haitian and the duo did a decent job in marking him.

With the win, Real Kashmir climbs to the third spot with 21 points from 11 matches while Mohun Bagan continues to remain at the sixth position with 15 points.

RKFC Coach David Robertson said the players displayed a “good” team spirit, which eventually overpowered the Kolkata giants.

“We knew it was difficult game and had to be played very keenly. The game was fantastic and results were totally unexpected,” he said.

“My players actually believed in themselves more than we believe on ourselves. Mason who played as striker did a good job. He has to play 10 times better than other players to stay in the team,” he said.

Robertson said the win will boost the morale of his players to perform better in upcoming games.