Derrick Pereira's men managed to keep their place at the summit of the I-League table with a closely contested draw against second-placed teamSalgaocar SC kept Pune FC at bay with a 1-1 draw at the Duler Stadium in an I-League round 10 encounter on Friday. A goal from Darryl Duffy in the fourth minute was cancelled out by a 61st minute penalty from Mustapha Riga.
Three changes as Nicolau Colaco, Karma Tsewang and Caetan Costa made way for Gilbert Oliveira, Fulganco and debutant Matthew Foschini. Meanwhile, Amrinder Singh returned between the posts for Pune after serving his suspension while Meyer was drafted in for Anthony D'Souza.
Gilbert Oliveira shot wide for the home side in the first minute before a lapse in Pune's defense saw Gurjinder Kumar hastily heading back to his goalkeeper with Darryl Duffy lurking in the area. The Scottish striker controlled the ball before Amrinder Singh could get to it and calmly walked the ball over the line to give Salgaocar the lead.
Gurjinder, however, went on to give a good account of himself by doing well to track the runs of Claude Gnakpa into the area while Augustin Fernandes was rock solid at the opposite end.
Salgaocar played a good attacking brand of football throughout the length of the first half with Clifton Dias and Francis Fernandes combining well in midfield while Mustapha Riga appeared to be the only threat within Pune's ranks.
In the 22nd minute, an inch-perfect cross from the left by Francis found Duffy, but the latter's shot was blocked by Gurjinder who also put in a vital block to stop Francis' shot after the Salgaocar midfielder was played in by Oliveira.
Ranjan Singh also did well to vitally intercept a Francis Fernandes cross with Gnakpa waiting in the box to get on the end of the delivery.
Then it was after Foschini's cross from the right that Gnakpa relayed the ball to Duffy, who set up Oliveira just outside the box. The Goan missed the goal by a whisker as Salgaocar had to settle for a one-goal lead at half-time.
The second half began at a high tempo with the hosts starting brightly but it was the away side that won a penalty on the hour mark. Augustin Fernandes was deemed guilty for bringing down Pierre and Mustapha Riga stepped up to send Karanjit Singh the wrong way and level the tie.
Six minutes later, Duffy's shot inside Pune's penalty area went narrowly wide before Clifton Dias was also off target having gotten on the end of a Foschini cross. In the 77th minute, Foschini tried to catch Amrinder off his line but his attempt from 30 yards out didn't dip enough to find the back of the net. In injury time, Shanmugam Venkatesh blazed a good effort just wide.
The two sides were eventually made to settle for a share of the spoils which kept Salgaocar in pole position while Pune FC also remained in second place.
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