Margao : Salgaocar FC and AIFF Elite Academy played out a thrilling 1-1 draw in a Round 4 clash of the U-18 I-League – Goa zone played at the DYSA ground, Cuncolim earlier today. With this draw Salgaocar FC continue to be perched at the top of the table having accumulated 10 points with a superior goal difference to that of AIFF who have also collected the same number of points from 4 outings. Sporting Clube de Goa are currently placed third with 4 points from as many outings whilst Dempo SC and SAI Goa have 1 and 0 points respectively, having played a game less.
The Greens started the brighter of the few sides and earned a succession of corners within the first 10 minutes. The first of those whipped in by Mahesh Kumar as early as the 5th minute saw Saurabh Patil rise the highest but unable to direct his header on target. It was then the turn of AIFF as pacey striker Baorindao Bodo made a strong run on the left and sent in a measured cross but was unable to find any of his team mates inside the box.
In the 11th minute Salgaocar did manage to break the deadlock as Mahesh after doing the spade work down the left hand side sent in a cross that was collected by the AIFF keeper Tamal Naskar. However, upon hitting the floor the ball spilled from his grasp and Lalit who was lurking managed to toe poke the ball to Ruflan Fernandes to score.
Minutes later Edmund Lalrindika who combined well with Baorindao found the latter in the box but the last named shot wide. Soon afterwards, it needed a fine save from Antonio Dylar Da Silva under the Salgaocar bar to keep the AIFF skipper Anirudh Thappa at bay after being set up by Jerry Lalrinzuala. The keeper was called into action again and had to pull off another fine save off a free-kick from Jerry from the edge of the box after the player had been tripped by Lalit Tariyal.
In the 22nd minute of the game, the Greens almost doubled their advantage as the ball fell to the feet of the Salgaocar skipper Denil Rebello at the top of the box after a corner from Mahesh on the right. Denil let fly only to see his effort saved off the line. At the end of other end Jerry had yet another opportunity to level the scores but shot over after breaking free on the right.
The AIFF lads did however find the back of the net in the 30th minute when the Greens were punished for failing to clear their lines on several occasions, Anirudh Thapa finding the corner of the net from the top of the box much to the joy of his team mates. Salgaocar’s goal-scorer Ruflan Fernandes missed what was probably the easiest opportunity of the game in the 35th minute as he failed to guide an inch perfect cross from Lalit from inside the 6-yard box with only the goal-keeper at his mercy.
After the change of ends, the AIFF boys came out all guns blazing in search of their second but the Salgaocar defense held firm and barely allowed their opponents any space or time on the ball. Zonunmawai in particular was a constant threat on the right. Salgaocar on the other hand were happy to break on the counter and coach Anthony Pereira made that clear by introducing pacey striker and star of the last game, Ronaldo Oliveira for Ruflan Fernandes.
With 8 minutes to go, a beautifully worked 1-2 between Stephen and Ronaldo almost through on goal, the AIFF keeper Tamal doing brilliantly to anticipate and come off his line to deflect the ball to safety. Divyansh Sudan could have emerged the hero for the Greens as the ball fell very kindly to his feet well inside the box in the 88th minute but his feeble left footer sailed wide.