RoundGlass Punjab FC increased their lead at the top of I-League 2022-23 standing by four points after registering a 2-0 win against Real Kashmir FC at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, here on Friday.
Juan Mera, the Spaniard in red-hot form, curled a majestic free kick in the first half to score his fifth goal in three games, while Brandon Vanlalremdika added the second just past the hour mark to complete another comprehensive victory for RoundGlass Punjab in Panchkula. Staikos Vergetis’ side remained unbeaten at home with seven wins and a draw.
The difference between the two sides was visible from the get-go. RoundGlass Punjab looked like a well-oiled machine, while Real Kashmir lacked any rhythm and confidence. Poor link-up play and lack of defensive awareness have been a constant problem for the Snow Leopards over the past few weeks, and it was no different on Friday. RoundGlass Punjab were able to build patiently from the back and had a set game plan.
The hosts received the first big chance of the game in the 13th minute as captain Luka Majcen got free on the right wing and sent a low cross for Brandon Vanlalremdika inside the six-yard box. The Mizo forward had enough time to take a touch to control the ball but was way off the target with his right-footed shot.
Real Kashmir’s Yakubu Wadudu remained an active force in midfield and almost opened the scoring against the run of play in the 25th minute. After showing quick feet on the top of the penalty area, the Ghanaian took a shot from the outside of his boot, but it deflected off an orange shirt to go narrowly wide.
Six minutes from half-time, Vanlalremdika was fouled by Richard Agyemang on the edge of the penalty area. The Ghanaian centre-back was shown a yellow card for his challenge, and Juan Mera stood behind the dead ball, ready to display a moment of brilliance. The Spaniard curled his free-kick around the wall and right into the top corner as goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury remained rooted to his spot.
Real Kashmir had their best chance of the day 15 minutes into the second period. Playing to the whistle, new striker signing Ernest Boateng found himself through on goal while the hosts appealed for a foul in the build-up.
However, RoundGlass Punjab custodian Kiran Chemjong was well-positioned, stretching out his right boot to preserve his side’s lead and deny Boateng his first goal of the season.
Just when a one-goal lead started to look bleak for the hosts, Vanlalremdika doubled the advantage. In the 62nd minute, Khaiminthang Lhungdim crossed the ball for Majcen at the far post. Real Kashmir’s Jestin George was caught ball-watching as the Slovenian rose above him to head the ball towards goal.
Although goalkeeper Roy Chowdhury managed to save the header, the rebound fell kindly for Vanlalremdika, who just had to tap into an open net.
Real Kashmir never looked like recovering from a two-goal deficit. Head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo did introduce attacking changes in form of Ibrahim Nurudeen and Girik Khosla, but it wasn’t enough for the Snow Leopards, who’ve now failed to score in three consecutive games.