Defending champion Gokulam Kerala took another step towards retaining the title as it successfully weathered a spirited challenge from RoundGlass Punjab FC 2-0 in the first round of the championship leg played at the Kalyani Stadium on Saturday.
Jourdaine Fletcher put Gokulam Kerala in the lead in the first quarter of the action before substitute V.S. Sreekuttan found the insurance goal in the final quarter to secure the full quota of points. Gokulam Kerala tallied 33 points from 13 matches to consolidate its leadership position while RoundGlass Punjab stayed on 23 points from 13 matches.
Earlier, in a clash between the last two teams of the group at Naihati Stadium, Rajasthan United FC scored twice in the second half to get past NEROCA FC 2-0 and better its position in the current standings.
Biswa Darjee found the lead a couple of minutes after the break before Pedro Manzi doubled the score in the injury-time to help Rajasthan United pick up full points and end a winless run of four games.
The results (Championship leg): At Kalyani: Gokulam Kerala FC 2 (Jourdaine Fletcher 16, V.S. Sreekuttan 84) bt RoundGlass Punjab 0.
At Naihati: NEROCA FC 0 lost to Rajasthan United FC 2 (Biswa Darjee 47, Pedro Manzi 90+2).