Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim registered a hard-fought solitary goal victory over NRB Vasco Sports Club in a GFA Pro League football match at Duler Stadium, here, Friday. Cavelossim led 1-0 at half time.
This was a crucial tie for bottom-placed Vasco who played their final match in the league with four points from 12 matches after playing under protest as the GFA docked their points. Vasco fielded three foreigners, Nigerian Stephen Offei in central defence, Australian German Cabrera in midfield and Nigerian Emanuel Ejiogu upfront partnering Aiken Dias. Cavelossim started with only one foreigner, Julius Akpele in the stopper-back position who provided them the opener in the 12th minute off a well-worked set-piece by experienced Wilton Gomes. Vasco’s German was cautioned by referee Nilesh Vaigankar for bringing down Cavelossim’s Fredric Endro and Wilton’s perfect free-kick was powerfully headed in by Julius for the opener.
Stunned by the setback, Vasco regrouped in search of the equalizer as Amar Halankar essayed a long ball to Aiken but Cavelossim goalkeeper Jason De Mello thwarted the danger with a timely collection in the 14th minute.
Vasco’s best chance came in the 23rd minute but German’s header hit the upright off a perfect cross from Amar.
Two minutes later, Vasco coach Subrata Bhattacharya made a tactical change in midfield replacing under-20 Rohan Kamble with defender Michael Faleiro as Stephen moved up to support the strikers.
At the other end, Cavelossim could have doubled their advantage but Silvester Carvalho’s inside the six-yard-box shot sailed over after Rayman Fernandes had provided a well-measured cross at the half hour mark.
In the next minute, Vasco captain Jose Colaco sent in a low cross in the danger zone but German was late in getting his foot on it with only the rival custodian at his mercy.
Just before the lemon break, Wilton essayed an intelligent ball over Vasco’s Michael that found teammate Semson Fernandes, who made a promising 20-yard run into the box but the latter’s powerful grounder missed the mark narrowly.
After resumption, Vasco started strongly but attempts from Stephen in the 46th minute and Asim Hassan in the 48th minutes were parried away by Jason.
Three minutes later, German’s curling outside-the-box effort hit the upright.
Vasco dominated the final quarter but their disjointed forward line could not sneak past Cavelossim defenders Mariano Fernandes, Remus Gomes, Agnelo Colaco and Julius, who did a fine job in their department to restrain the rival attacks.
Meanwhile, the GFA failed to provide players with identity cards to avail free entry as some of the Goa Velha players who had come to witness had to buy tickets as they were denied free entry.
Cavelossim have collected 16 points from 12 outings while Vasco remain at the bottom of the table. [H]