Sporting down United Sikkim 2-1

Two early goals scored in the first fifteen minutes of the game helped Sporting Clube de Goa down Baichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim FC 2-1 in the round 6 match of the I-League, despite the former India captain appearing for his team for 13 minutes in the second half, at Nehru stadium, Fatorda here on Sunday.

Sporting’s new recruit from Japan— Seiya Sugishita, appearing in his first match of the league, played an important role as he put his team into the lead in the 10th minute of play. Nigerian midfielder Kalu Ogba scored the other goal in the 15th minute. United Sikkim FC pulled one back just a minute before the break after defender Sandesh Jhigan headed in style to beat Sporting keeper Gerard D’Mello.

With this win Sporting have now collected 7 points from 6 matches while United Sikkim remain with 4 points having played same number of matches.

Incidentally, Sporting became the only Goan team to win its round 6 match of the I-League this season after top-contenders Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers suffered shocking defeats in their respective matches.

Sporting made their intentions clear right from the start with the new-found Japanese striker Seiya Sugishta threatening the rivals time and often with his speedy runs, deft skills on the ball and fantastic ball-control.

He was ably assisted by the Nigerian medio Kalu Ogba who fed him with brilliant passes and the Japanese obliged smartly by mesmerising the United Sikkim defence on numerous occasions. Seiya could have scored at least two more goals but the United Sikkim keeper Yoon Tae foiled his attempts in the nick of time, once by diving full length and on the other brought a good save from close.

Sporting surged ahead when Joseph Pereira ran down the left flank and from the touch line sent a high pass to Seiya who headed strongly to give no chance whatsoever to the United Sikkim keeper.

Goaded by the success, Sporting began attacking with gusto and within the next five minutes Seiya laid a through pass to Kalu Ogba, who took two steps forward and then unleashed a stiff right footer sending the ball to the far corner of the nets to put his team two goals up within first fifteen minutes of play.

Thereafter the Flamingo Orange outfit went on producing fantastic moves but could not get their act together.

United Sikkim produced two brilliant counter moves in the last six minutes of the first half, one of which culminated into a goal that came off a free-kick.

Midfielder Michael Steven Rodriguez, a Costa Rican recruit who played for his country in the 2006 World Cup, sent a free-kick right at the rival goal mouth which Nadong Bhutia received but the striker miscued the ball which United Sikkim defender Sandesh Jhingan utilised by sending a strong header to beat Gerard D’Mello under the Sporting bar.

Sporting though dominated the second session as well but could not succeed in scoring any more goals.

In an attempt to save the day, United Sikkim’s interim coach Baichung Bhutia came in place of midfielder Zenith Mashangva and played for 13 minutes but could hardly make any difference to his team’s fortunes.

United Sikkim later made two more changes replacing the Korean goalkeeper Yoon Tae with Monotosh Gosh and substitute Linekar Machado with another player but they could not pose any danger to the Goan outfit.

Sporting coach Ekendra Singh, while speaking at the post match briefing, expressed his happiness over the victory and exuded confidence that it will boost his team to do better in the
next matches.

United Sikkim manager said his team played well and hoped to do better in future matches. [NT]