Dempo Sports Club preferred to play bass instead of lead and were made to wait till the end to stage a comeback that enabled them to hold Calangute Association 2-2 in the Goa Football Association (GFA) Professional League at Duler stadium on Monday.
Title contenders Dempo SC started hazily with coach Samir Naik deciding to keep Fulganco on the bench and opting to start with Shallum Pires, spearheading the defence along with Nickson Castanha and Edwin Viegas as advancing defenders.
Dempo were the first to get a whiff of goal when in the 15th minute Moises D’Sa had to make a goal-line save off a header by Dempo’s Alber Gonsalves.
Calangute weighed their options with Malik Mulla trying to cut through the Dempo left with his nippy runs forward and his smart reading of his colleague’s placements. The hosts got their first clear chance in the 20th minute and Valerio Rodrigues combined instinctively with Domnic Fernandes – to release him through – to record the first goal of the evening.
The early goal saw the Dempo lads change the rhythm with Rajat Harijan playing as an attacking midfielder and taking over the distribution of the ball from the centre and it was one such move of his that led to the equaliser.
Rajat, on receiving the ball in 27th minute, crossed it to Niraj Parekh who ran towards the left and from the corner crossed the ball to the centre for Rajat to meet and finish with a neat header for the equaliser.
Both teams played cautiously with Calangute Association trying to catch Dempo SC off guard and the latter trying to find Joaquim Abranches with an opportunity to score. The efforts nearly bore fruit to Dempo in the 40th minute when Joaquim tapped in a ball from Nickson to see it hit the horizontal and go out of play.
Calangute hit back, a few minutes later when Gaurav Vaigankar found Domnic open in the Dempo box. However, Domnic’s attempt also hit the horizontal.
As the first half appeared to be ending with both sides sharing two goals, Calangute Association were awarded a penalty in the last seconds of the session for Domnic to be, once again, able to give his side the lead.
Calangute lead 2-1 during the break.
The second half was a story of Dempo’s domination; of the chances they squandered; of the dramatic last second equaliser that was a relief to the Dempo supporters and heart pain for the Calangute fans.
Dempo kept attacking, in search of equalisers, and when it looked like the ball was set to go in, it was either missed by a Dempo player or Calangute goalkeeper Sanij Bugde showed his worth.
Joaquim Abranches had the first opportunity to equalise when he had just the goalkeeper to beat with a header. Instead, he headed out. Soon thereafter, Velito Cruz tried to loop the ball past Calangute keeper Sanij but the former proved more formidable.
As time wore on, Beevan was brought into the attack and his best opportunity – a diving header off a cross by Nickson – was acrobatically saved by the Calangute keeper.
Alber who has started in front and was then instructed to play behind pressed ahead for an equaliser and his last minute low header, once again saw Calangute keeper Sanij keep his team in contention for three points.
Just when it looked like Calangute were set to return home victorious, Dempo earned a corner and it led to a melee with Dempo lads making seven attempts at goal and the Calangute lads just not relenting until Edwin Viegas ultimately rolled it in for the equaliser and a big sigh from their supporters.