Margao: In an action packed match played at the SAG Ground in Cuncolim, Sporting Clube de Goa juniors narrowly edged out Salgaocar FC’s juniors by a goal to nil in the U-19 I-League to stay in contention for a place in the final leg to be played later in the year.
Despite the defeat Salgaocar FC continue to be in pole position to qualify from the Goa zone along with AIFF Elite Academy, having secured 10 points from 6 matches whilst Sporting are on 8 points from 7 matches of the 8 to be played. The match also saw 3 players sent off, with 2 of those found guilty belonging to the Flaming Orange camp.
The match was played at a fast pace right through, with both teams making their intentions clear at the outset. Salgaocar FC’s striker Naro Hari who found the back of the net only 4 days ago against the same opponents twice came close to scoring in the first 15 minutes, both attempts missing the keeper’s left upright by not much. At the other end, a long distance try by Quan Gomes sailed just the crossbar.
Mid-way through the first half, a beautiful cross by Denil Rebello just eluded a leaping Stefen Fernandes and was collected by keeper Kamaljit Singh. Sporting created the best chance of the half though and should have led at the breather as James shot over from hand-shaking distance in the 45th minute with an open goal at his mercy.
The second half began where the first half ended, with both sides keen on attacking. Akhiraj Martins was particularly impressive in attack for Sporting whilst captain Godfrey Mascarenhas stood out for the Greens at the heart of defence. Salgaocar teenage sensation, Liston Colaco, rattled the upright after going on one of his trademark mazy runs soon after coming on.
However, by then, a few rash and clumsy tackles and frayed tempers was a sign of things to come. Around the hour mark, James Fernandes flew in with both feet off the ground on captain Godfrey Mascarenhas, with the Salgaocar skipper already on the floor. Substitute Dominic Soares of the Greens who had just come in, tried to intervene and pushed aside one of the charging Sporting players was bizarrely shown the marching orders along with James.
Shortly after in the 66th minute, an attack from the left saw the ball land at the feet of Shouvik inside the box who slotted past Chinmaya in the Salgaocar goal through a host of defenders. Salgaocar threw everything in the final 20 minutes and came close on a couple of occasions. With a couple of minutes to go for the final whistle, Sporting’s Germanpreet was given the marching orders after receiving his second booking of the evening for taking down Liston as the last named got past him with sheer pace.
The Greens won a free-kick on the edge of the box in the final minute of added time as Liston was taken down for the umpteenth time, but were unable to cause any damage as Sporting held on for 3 valuable points.