The never say die spirit enabled Dempo SC to stage a comeback from two goals down to level 2-2 and split points with youthful Salgaocar FC in the Goa Football Association (GFA) Professional League match played at Panchayat ground in Nagoa, Verna on Tuesday.
Salgaocar FC started with fire and Dempo SC replied with a vivacity that keeps football fans in Goa rooted till the end and the two teams completed an old story in a new bottle – four goals shared; two points shared.
Salgaocar FC scored the first goal through Chaitan Komarpant in the tenth minute and Devendra Murgaokar appeared to have bolstered the cushion in the 48th minute, capitalising on a Dempo defensive lapse. But, Dempo replied back the next minute through Suraj Haldankar and Niraj Parekh reminded all that a Dempo – Salgaocar story never ends early, in 54th minute.
While the first half largely belonged to Salgaocar FC, who moved with complete cohesion with each other in the defence and the midfield, giving biting teeth to the strikers to go and attack with great zeal.
Salgaocar FC penetrated inside the Dempo SC citadel time and again in the first quarter of the match and then slowed down a bit during which time Dempo SC began to assert themselves but could not find the mark until half time.
With probing moves, Salgaocar FC spotted the leaky area in the Dempo SC defence on the right flank where Chaitan, on receiving a shot pass inside the box, let go a stiff grounder which hit the right post and then the left and the ball entered the nets. Dempo SC keeper Luis Barreto did dive to collect the ball which had already crossed the goal line.
Salgaocar FC kept on playing an attacking game and with some flowing moves created some ripples deep inside the Dempo SC box.
Salgaocar’s good show continued even after the start of the second half and they soon went two-goal up when Devendra Murgaokar unleashed a powerful shot giving no chance at all to Dempo keeper Luis Barreto.
Down by two goals, Dempo SC’s spirit never mellowed down. Instead, they hit back in the very next minute when Suraj sent in an innocuous looking free kick which stunned the entire Salgaocar defence, goalkeeper and a few spectators.
The match then tilted in Dempo SC’s favour with the lads from Ilhas displaying some pleasing football – the midfield strengthened with the presence of Kirtikesh Gadekar who moved the ball deceptively and tried to find the forwards within shooting range.
As Dempo SC mounted the pressure, Salgaocar FC resorted to soaking it, happy with the lead that now began to appear slender and it vanished in the 54th minute when defender Shallum Pires ran down the right flank and lobbed in a cross that was nicely met by Niraj whose header left Salgaocar keeper Jason in a daze and the Dempo fans bursting crackers.
With both teams tied even, the match slowed down a bit in the last quarter. Both teams had some stray attempts at goal and as the referee blew the final whistle it was even square. With this 2-2 draw, Salgaocar FC stay on 24 points while Dempo SC have 25 points.