Carvalho earns draw for Dempo

Dempo SC goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury leaps high in the air to pluck the ball cleanly during their I-League match against ONGC at Duler stadium in Mapusa, on Sunday.
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MAPUSA: Injury-hit Dempo Sports Club struggled before holding ONGC to a 1-1 draw, courtesy a Peter Carvalho-strike in the stoppage time, in their round 18 clash of the I-League at Duler Stadium, Mapusa on Sunday.

Dempo missed their key players in Mahesh Gawli, Clifford Miranda and Ryuji Sueoka due to injury, and to add to their defensive woes, stopper back Debabrata Roy picked up an ankle injury early in the game and had to be replaced by Samir Naik.

The Blues came into the match with high confidence after their massive 7-0 win over 

United Sikkim. However, ONGC were not to be underestimated after the arrival of their new coach Santosh Kashyap who is enjoying a six-match unbeaten run.

Armando Colaco’s men initially displayed their usual possession play but did try to probe at regular intervals with their midfielder Godwin Franco unleashing two rasping shots early on to test the rival keeper. 

The deadlock however was broken much against the run of play in the 37th minute when ONGC sneaked in a goal through Jatin Bisht. The midfielder managed to give Eric Browns free-kick the slightest of touches to direct the ball to the unguarded far corner of the goal.

Before the end of the first session, Dempo came close to equalising on two occasions—first, Anthony Pereira headed over the ONGC goal after Valeriano initiated a well-executed move and later Anthony Pereira once again faltered as his free-kick from the edge of the box moved inches away from the post.

After the lemon-break, Dempo showed some urgency in their approach but their moves were not resulting in goals with ONGC tightening their screws in defence and not allowing the dangerous Koko Sakibo any room for damage. 

Sensing that things were not working their way, Dempo tactician Armando Colaco made a couple of changes and introduced John de Menyongar and Peter Carvalho in the their attack. 

Pressing hard for the equaliser, Dempo created a series of attacks as in the 86th minute a goalmouth melee Climax Lawrence had a golden chance to rescue parity but the experienced player latched his half volley over the rival goal.

Finally the home fans could breathe a sigh of relief when substitute Peter Carvalho found the equaliser in stoppage time — a result of another goalmouth melee. 

Just few seconds before the final hooter, ONGCs Surabuddin Mollick had a last look at the rival goal. Mollicks shot hit the horizontal post before falling on the goal line. The ONGC camp loudly claimed for a goal but the referee turned down their appeal that continued even after the final whistle.

ONGC coach Santosh Kashyap was extremely satisfied with his team’s performance but he lamented on the standard of referees in the country. “It has been an excellent effort from the boys and three points would have been better than the draw. The referees are the real concern. That was certainly a goal. Every coach is having a problem against the referees. That means there is something wrong,” Kashyap said at the post match press briefing.

Meanwhile, Dempo coach Armando Colaco admitted that he was relieved after the last minute equaliser. Without taking anything away from the players, Colaco explained the conditions he has to work in, amidst injury woes. 

“I am relieved. The beauty is that the boys are working hard. ONGC played well and so did we. May be no one deserved to lose today and finally football was the winner,” Colaco said. [NT]