MAPUSA: Dempo Sports Club came back strongly to hold Sporting Clube de Goa 1-1 in the U-20 I-League match played at Poriat grounds, here on Wednesday.
The drawn encounter also enabled Dempo, having secured five points, seal a berth in the final round of the U-20 I-League.
Juniors from both the sides played earnestly knowing well that a win could secure them a berth in the qualifying round of the I-League.
Sporting side who were leading by a goal till the 74th minute of the match received a big jolt when Dempo’s Romeo Fernandes scored a precious equaliser for his team in the very next minute (75th minute).
Sporting Clube de Goa (with four points) now await the result of the match between Churchill Brothers (with 3 points) and Salgaocar (with 1 point).
Sporting held the upper hand with their medios Rowllin Borges and Nickson Castanha working like well-oiled machines as they kept their strikers Jolan Fernandes and Pritam Singh busy upfront.
In the very 2nd minute of play, Dempo keeper Agnelo D’Souza came with a full-stretched diving save to push the ball for a corner, off a long-ranger by Clayton Dias.
Sporting, however finally broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute, with medio Jason Fernandes getting hold to a pass by Rowllin set up N Pritam Singh inside the penalty box who outwitted the onrushing Dempo keeper with a neat placement, 1-0.
Dempo should have levelled terms in the 40th minute but Romeo Fernandes’ hot-blooded shot hit the defender and the ball travelled to Micky Vaz, whose placement sailed inches past the side post.
At the other end, three minutes before the breather, Jolan Fernandes beat the off side trap and raced at the rival goal only to be thwarted by the Dempo keeper in one-to-one situation.
The change of ends saw the Dempo side continue their pursuit for the equaliser, but their strikers lacked the penetration upfront.
In the 68th minute, substitute Xavier Dias managed to snatch the ball from Dempo defender Shallum Pires and relayed the ball to Pritam who after getting past a host of Dempo defenders drilled a hot-blooded shot, which hit the defender for a corner.
Sporting were taken aback in the 75th minute of play, as Kerala referee Shaijan P Kuriakose overlooked a tackle on Sporting medio Jason Fernandes in the midfield. As the play continued with the player lying in agony, Dempo’s Brian Mascarenhas sent a long pass to Micky Vaz on the left flank, who latched a stiff grounder which was not cleanly collected by the Sporting keeper Dietmar Fernandes to find Romeo Fernandes slot the ball into the nets, 1-1.
Dempo almost scored the winning goal in the dying minutes, but Brian Mascarenhas’ shot from the left flank hit the upright.