| Sunday Seah’s (hidden behind goalpost) header enters the Tollygunge Agragami citadel on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Tollygunge Agragami survived a second-half charge from Salgaocar and escaped with a 1-1 draw in the National Football League at Salt Lake Stadium on Friday.
Ashim Biswas continued with his goal-scoring spree, handing Aloke Mukherjee’s team a second-minute lead. But Salgaocar gradually regrouped themselves from the initial shock and levelled scores through Man-of-the-Match Sunday Seah four minutes from the break.
The visitors upped their momentum in the second half and came close to scoring on quite a few occasions. But poor finishing and a dogged Tollygunge defence, led by goalkeeper Arindam Ghosh, denied them a goal. Friday’s 1-1 verdict left Salgaocar on 23 points from 12 matches while Tollygunge Agragami moved to 14. East Bengal are leading with 27 points from 11 outings.
Ashim, who made an impressive international debut in the Dhaka SAFF Cup, seemed to have made the habit of delivering an early strike. He found the target in the fifth minute during his team’s 3-2 win over ITI in their last match. And on Friday, he turned the very first move of the match into a goal.
Tollygunge captain Sandip Das delivered a ball from the right to Moses Owira in the middle and the Nigerian set up a perfect through which split the defence. Ashim received the ball, coming forward from the other end, and calmly slotted it home.
A 17th minute departure of defender Isiaka Awoyemi following a leg injury, however, dealt a severe blow to Tollygunge. This resulted in his team withdrawing to rearguard action and the Goan outfit became more resourceful in the penetrative zone. Seah, who hit the post four minutes earlier, equalised when he headed in a Covan Lawrence centre over an out-of-position Arindam.
Apart from that mistake, Arindam was confidence personified, in a complete turnaround from his error-prone performance against ITI. When Salgaocar went all out in search of a winner, he stood in their way, effecting some smothering saves. On two occasions he blocked Seah’s shots from inside the six-yard box.
TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Arindam Ghosh; Manas Das, Isiaka Awoyemi (Sujit Neogi, 17), Debkumar Sasmal, Dipayan Majumdar; Mehtab Hossain (Srikanta Dutta, 60), Sandip Das, Moses Owira, Sujoy Dutta, Ashim Biswas; Akeem Abolanle (Laltu Das, 87).
SALGAOCAR: Juje Siddi; Mani Tombi Singh, Prashant Jaggi, Covan Lawrence, Roberto Fernandes; Bello Rasaq, Tomba Singh (Denis Cabral, 73), Climax Lawrence, Dharamjit Singh; Sunday Seah, Samson Singh (Alex Ambrose, 61).
Referee: P.K. Bose (M.P.)