The Steelers from Bengaluru fail to close the gap on the top two as they play out a drab draw against the chasing Flaming Oranje
In what was billed as a classic top-of-the-table encounter, Sporting Clube de Goa managed to escape from the Garden city stronghold of Bengaluru FC with a point which helps them keep their top four ambitions alive while denting Bengaluru FC’s chance to make up on lost ground, chasing Salgaocar FC and Pune FC who played out a draw yesterday.
Bengaluru went into this tie with an unchanged squad that faced Pune, with Sunil Chhetri, the Indian striker who recently clinched the title as India’s highest goal scorer, included as British coach Ashley Westwood went for Sporting’s jugular.
Sporting Goa meanwhile had a notable exception in Dawson Fernandes who is out injured after pulling out of the national squad training camp and he was replaced by Boima Karpeh.
Bengaluru got the game underway and had the first chance of the game as Thoi Singh came close to opening the lead from the left, in the 5th minute. Four minutes later it was Arturo Garcia who shot just wide, after John Johnson put Bengaluru FC’s heart in their mouths after giving the ball away cheaply.
A minute later Siam Hangal chipped a ball in for Sean Rooney who saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Ravi Kumar. Rooney was involved in another chance a few minutes later as he was thwarted again by the shot-stopper. Pratik Shirodkar got himself into the book on a yellow as Beikho Beingaichho shot over the bar from a glorious opportunity.
As the half petered down to a close, Karpeh had a rare shot at goal which was saved by Pawan Kumar. Tempers flared towards at the end of the half as many felt Jovel Martins had deliberately shunned Hangal in the face, but walked without retribution from the referee.
The second half started with the same promise but followed a similar trajectory as the first chance of the tie came via Boima Karpeh as he let loose a cracker, only it didn’t trouble the keeper. Then Beikko lost a couple of defenders to cross, but that opportunity wasn’t capitalized on either.
Then the only gilt-edged chance that came Bengaluru FC’s way, was courtesy of a defensive error as Thoi Singh’s cross was deflected onto the post from a Sporting defenders head, luckily for the visiting team though, it got away safely.
A string of substitutions were excercised by Ashley Westwood and Oscar Bruzon, though none of them had a decisive say in the outcome of the match. At the end of the day, both teams will look at this match as two points dropped than one gained.
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