Dempo rally to hold East Bengal

Peter Carvalho scored a late goal to help Dempo hold an erratic East Bengal 1-1 in their round four I-League fixture on Saturday.

Backed by a boisterous home support, it was a listless outing by the last-year’s runners up as they missed many chances, even as a refereeing decision went in favour of them.

East Bengal led through a 32nd minute Edeh Chidi spotkick, a decision by referee Ajit Meetei which was later challenged by Dempo coach Armando Colaco.

In fact, Colaco had luck going the other way as his team was denied a penalty in the 56th minute when Ryuji Sueoka was brought down after a tussle with Saumik Dey but the referee thought it otherwise.

"Indian football cannot go forward with such type of refereeing. It was a definite penalty," Colaco said. Even opponents’ coach Trevor James Morgan did not have anything much to say to the decision.

"Such types of decisions do take place. But what do you say the way their players behaved with the referee?" Morgan asked.

East Bengal had a chance to climb to the pole position but the result meant that Dempo remained the leader with 10 points compared to eight of the home side.

Dempo should also give some credit to goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury who played his heart out to stand tall under the bar.

In two back-to-back attacks early in the match, East Bengal looked to score through Chidi and Manandeep Singh from close range but Roy Chowdhury’s fine work denied the red-gold a goal up front.

Dempo also kept raiding the opponent’s box but could not find any penetrative move to unsettle the East Bengal’s rhythm. In the 27th minute, Orji Penn was brought down inside the box by Mahesh Gawli as East Bengal grabbed the penalty with Chidi’s spotkick.

Spurred on by the goal, East Bengal kept attacking but an alert Dempo defence avoided any further damage as the red-and-gold had to remain content with the one goal advantage at the break.

After the changeover, the Armando Colaco-coached outfit pressed for an equaliser bringing in Koko Sakibo in place of Clifford Miranda.

Finally, luck smiled on the Goans when Cresen Antao set it up for Carvalho from Joaquim Abranches’ corner, resulting in the much-needed equaliser which came in 82nd minute. [NT]