| Tollygunge Agaragmi custodian Sudip Sarkar thwarts Salgaocar's Felix Ibrebru as Isiaka Awoyemi (right) and Nilavo Chakraborty watch during the National League match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta: Tollygunge Agragami, who are already hovering near the relegation zone, slipped further on Thursday after they lost 1-2 to Salgaocar SC in the National Football League match for ONGC Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium. The result left Tollygunge on 15 from 17 ties, while Salgaocar moved to 22 after the same number of outings.
The Goan team drew first blood through Felix Ibrebru which Akeem Abolanle equalised. However, a controversial penalty converted by Felix sealed the match in the visitors' favour.
The hosts should blame their luck having forced to return empty-handed, as referee A. Arjunan's decision to award the penalty in favour of the Goan team in the 77th minute defied logic.
'The refereeing has been below par in our last two matches. We have been on the receiving end,' Tollygunge coach Biswajit Das said after the match.
Tollygunge looked a much better side on the day than in the previous match. The defence looked much stronger with the return of Isiaka Awoyemi. The first half was evenly poised though Tollygunge did make a few forays at the rival citadel, but failed to do the needful.
After the breather the match turned eventful. The Goan team shot into the lead in the 59th minute when a Jerose Oliviera cross from the right was directed to the net by Felix.
But the visitors' joy was cut short as Akeem, getting a ball from Chinmoy Sarkar, restored parity with a firm right-footer in the 70 th minute.
After drawing level, the home side started piling pressure on Salgaocar defence and looked like they would snatch the winner.
But it was just them that SSCB man Arjunan stole the limelight, 'gifting' a penalty to the visitors. Saumik Dey's unintentional push to Bhuvan Joshi clearly didn't deserve the spot-kick and Felix made no mistake.
Still the hosts had a chance of snatching a single point, but the way Suley Musah failed to connect his rightfooter showed why East Bengal didn't register him for the NFL.
Fabio dos Passos was adjudged Man of the Match.
The win helped Salgaocar improve their chances of staying in the elite league, but Tollygunge with 15 points and Mohun Bagan on 17 are still lurking in the relegation zone as are SBT and Vasco SC.
The race to the top has also began hotting up and is now confined to three clubs, Dempo SC (35), East Bengal (33), Sporting Clube de Goa (32).
Salgaocar SC: Juje Siddi, Remus Gomes, Prasant Jaggi, John Dias, Bello Rassaq, Jerose Oliviera (Fred Mascarenhas 68), Rocus Lamare (Samson Singh 81), Bhuvan Joshi, Francis Andrade (Jyothi Kumar 50), Favio dos Passos, Felix Ibrebru.
Tollygunge Agragami: Sudip Sarkar, Kabijit Khotel, Isiaka Awoyemi, Debkumar Sashmal, Saumik Dey, Santosh Singh, Suley Musah, Nilavo Chakraborty (Gouranga Dutta 22, Ramu Adhikary 67), Chinmoy Sarkar (Tarif Ahmed 74), Surajit Bose, Akeem Abolanle.
Referee: A. Arjunan (SSCB).