United SC hold Dempo to goalless draw
Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) United SC were held to a goalless draw by Dempo in the round 14 encounter of the Airtel I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium here Tuesday evening.
United SC had the better chances in the game but their finishing wasn’t good while a young Dempo side, which didn’t have a foreigner in the starting eleven, defended solidly to earn a precious away point.
The Kolkata club lose ground in the title race as they remain six points off the top while Dempo move six points clear of rock-bottom Churchill Brothers.
Despite being a doubt for the game, Eric Brown, who netted a double for United SC against Dempo earlier in the season, started and had the first shot on target as his deflected freekick was parried away by Laxmikant Kattimani.
Minutes later, the Liberian rattled the bar with a powerful shot after getting on the end of Ranti Martins‘ header.
Dempo took time to settle into the game and predictably played in plenty of crosses into the box to test United SC keeper Abhijit Das, who was making his I-League debut.
Abhijit looked confident but made a big mistake when his half-hearted punch from a Clifford Miranda freekick fell nicely for Pronay Halder but the youngster couldn’t hit the target.
Dempo made a better start in the second half with skipper and India international Clifford Miranda almost sending Alwyn George clean through on goal but the pass was intercepted by a last-ditch tackle from Dhanachandra Singh.
The visitors failed to seriously test Abhijit for the entire second half and at the other end defended solidly to preserve the clean sheet despite the exit of the experienced Debabrata Roy due to injury. Dempo’s defensive cause was also aided by United SC’s poor finishing with Ranti in particular being very wasteful.
The best chance of the half fell to Ranti at the hour mark when he dispossessed Selwyn Fernandes in the Dempo box but the Nigerian uncharacteristically failed to hit the target.
Ranti to his credit never stopped trying and even set up substitute CK Vineeth on a couple of instances but the India midfielder could only hit the ball straight at Kattimani.
Brown and Dhanachandra also produced saves from Kattimani but they were both routine stops. Towards the end Ranti had another opportunity as he got a free header from a Eric Brown corner but the former Dempo man couldn’t score against his former club.