Salgaocar FC scraped their way to a 2-1 win over Pailan Arrows who looked short of ideas in attack...
Pailan Arrows started with Shaiju Mon down the right flank, while youngster Tirthankar Sarkar played down the left. Sonu Beniwal played as left back while Pritam Kotal partnered skipper Shouvik Ghosh in central defense. Strangely Holicharan Narzary only found his place on the bench, as the line was led by Seminlen Doungel.
Meanwhile, Salgaocar, fresh from their 9-0 mauling of United Sikkim, looked confident of recording another thumping win, this time over the AIFF developmental squad. They started with two foreigners leading the line, with Josimar D' Silva partnering Gabriel Obatola to make a fiery attacking duo.
The match started on a bright note for the away side, who were hungry to seize the advantage and get the opening goal as quickly as they could. They had to wait only six minutes before the first chance presented itself only for Gabriel Obatola to make a hash of the gilt-edged chance.
After flicking the ball over Pritam Kotal in defense, Obatola had only the goalkeeper to beat but dragged his shot wide.
Just four minutes later, Milagres Gonsalves was guilty of wasting yet another chance as he went clean through after Josimar found him with a through pass from the edge of the box. This time too, it ended similarly as he failed to test Soram Poirei in goal.
The match began to be bogged down with Salgaocar doing all the probing without any end product, while Pailan Arrows failing to manufacture any meaningful chance themselves. Two minutes before the half hour mark however, it was only the inside of the upright that prevented Salgaocar from opening the scoring as Fulgano Cardozo's hopeful shot from outside the box, following a corner was deflected towards goal by Obatola. Soram was well beaten and luckily the ball rolled out after hitting the inside of the upright.
In the 36th minute, Pailan Arrows made the away side for all the wasted opportunities, as Vishal Kumar's long ball was brought down perfectly by Doungel who then displayed remarkable skill to nutmeg the ball past Augustin Fernades, leaving him for dead. What followed was even better as he drove into the box and let loose a belter, giving Karanjit Singh in goal no chance.
Shocked by going behind, Salgaocar started pressing more, and it was in the 43rd minute that they got their reward as Francis Fernandes' hopeful cross from the right was headed in by Josimar and even though Soram got a touch to the ball, there was too much power on the header for him to keep it out.
Just after the break, Obatola made amends for his previous miss as he found the target in the 50th minute taking advantage of a shocking piece of defending from Pritam Kotal who failed to control the ball letting him have a free run.
Salgaocar allowed Pailan to have more of the ball after taking the lead, instead of going for the kill. They preferred to sit back and protect their lead and their attacking threat was further hampered when Obatola had to go off after a knock.
The game did pick up with about fifteen minutes remaining from regulation time, as Milan Singh drove from midfield and almost scored after exchanging a neat one-two just outside the box with Doungel but scuffed his shot which Karanjit could save easily.
On the other end, substitute Marcus Mascarenhas almost made an immediate mark as he first dispossessed Tirthankar in his own half, before driving forward down the right with intent, accelerating past the full back with ease and putting in a good ball for Josimar. It took a timely intervention from Shouvik Ghosh to prevent Salgaocar from further extending their lead.
With chances dying out at the end, as Pailan failed to create in spite of having the better of the possession while Salgaocar were happy to sit back and defend the lead.
Deep into injury time, Salgaocar could have seen the scoreline read 3-1 in their favour after Francis Fernandes' powerful free-kick came off the chest of the Arrows keeper, but onrushing substitute Marcus Mascarenhas made a hush of it hitting the rebound high and wide.
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