The game ended in a goalless draw but it could have been worse for East Bengal if not for Gurpreet Singh's efforts in goal...Salgaocar FC drew 0-0 with East Bengal in a round 14 I-League encounter at the Duler Stadium, Mapusa-Goa, on Wednesday afternoon. Gurpreet Singh was named "Most Valuable Player" and with good reason as the visiting team's goalkeeper pulled off a string of excellent saves and even denied Matthew Foschini from the penalty-spot in the 25th minute.
Derrick Pereira made only one change as compared to his side that face Shillong Lajong on Friday, with Francis Fernandes making his way into the starting line-up in place of Fulganco Cardozo.
On the other side, Armando Colaco was without the services of injured players Mehtab Hossain and Uga Okpara among the others, but he received a boost in the form of Japanese medio Ryuji Sueoka and South Sudanese striker James Moga making their returns.
The game started on an unfortunate note for Salgaocar as Karma Tsewang injured himself and was substituted as early as in the seventh minute with Milagres Gonsalves being brought on.
The substitute was involved in a couple of attacking moves immediately as he saw his shot being saved by Gurpreet and created an opportunity for Francis Fernandes who couldn’t jump high enough to meet his cross.
In the 24th minute, Gilbert Oliveira was fouled inside the box by Gurwinder Singh which left the referee with little option but to point toward the spot. However, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu dived to his right to deny Matthew Foschini’s powerful spot-kick to keep the score level.
Just before the half hour mark, Karanjit Singh was also made to work as the Salgaocar goalkeeper blocked Harmanjot Singh Khabra’s effort after the latter was played through by Moga. Couple of minutes later, Moga found the back of the net but the referee’s assistant raised his flag as the East Bengal frontman had handled the ball in the build-up.
Gurpreet denied Darryl Duffy with an outstretched arm to block the Scot's shot from outside the box. A few minutes later, Duffy spotted Clifton Dias in the box who squared it for Milagres. The substitute, instead of tapping it home, sent it straight for Gurwinder to make the clearance.
Oliveira then sent a through-ball for Clifton, but the latter’s shot was just about cleared by Raju Gaikwad. On the opposite end, Naoba Singh sent in a cross from the right which Moga did well to divert goalwards but only to see his effort being saved by an alert Karanjit.
Six minutes after the break, Ryuji Sueoka shot the ball wide with only the goalkeeper to beat after being played in by Moga.
Thereafter, Gurpreet was once again in the thick of action as his reflex save kept out Duffy’s effort after being put through on goal by Francis.
Substitute Marcus Mascarenhas headed wide from a Foschini cross in the 85th minute. Before the final whistle, Clifton had another chance but the midfielder’s attempt went wide as the game ended in a stalemate.
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