| Dempo SC’s Man of the Match Clifford Miranda (centre) in an unsuccessful attempt at the Tollygunge Agragami goal during their final National League match at Salt Lake Stadium Sunday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Dempo SC survived a second-half scare before scraping past Tollygunge Agragami in their final round of the National Football League at Salt Lake Stadium Monday.
Clifford Miranda gave the visitors a 12-minute lead and E.B. Chenna extended it seven minutes into second half. Then in the 67th minute, Stanley Colaco added another for the Goan outfit. But a minute before and after Dempo’s third goal, Niladri Chakraborty and Ashim Biswas reduced the margin for the local side. They also came close to scoring on quite a few occasions, but Dempo defence just managed to hold their defence successfully.
The win pushed Dempo to the fifth position with 35 points while Tollygunge finished with 23 and remained at ninth. Mohun Bagan and Churchill, however, can displace Dempo if the two win their respective matches on Monday.
Tollygunge coach Aloke Mukherjee blamed his defence for the defeat. “My defence was awful today. All the goals were scored because of lack of concentration among the defenders,” he said after the match.
Mukherjee, however, also highlighted his team’s first-choice goalkeeper Arindam Ghosh’s attitude as a key blow to his plans. “Before the match, he (Arindam) came to me and said he was suffering from lack of confidence. Consequently, he refused to take the field. If this is the kind of support I’ve got from a senior player, the condition of my team is just anybody’s guess,” Mukherjee lamented.
Just seconds before the opening goal, Sujoy Dutta’s shot forced a smothering save from Dempo goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal. Then in the 31st minute, Laltu Das’ header off an Ashim centre crashed onto the crossbar while the forward again failed to tap in another Ashim centre after six minutes, as Tollygunge upped their tempo for an equaliser.
Mukherjee’s side conceded the second goal in a bizarre fashion. Goalkeeper Sibram Dey took a low feeble shot off a backpass from left-back Biswarup Bishu and the ball struck on the back of Chenna. He had no difficulty in beating Sibram.
But Ashim’s searing runs down the flanks were constant threat to Dempo rearguard and in the 66th minute, one of them fetched Tollygunge’s first goal, when Niladri was just in the right place to slot home.
Dempo, though, immediately increased their tally when Colaco hooked in a minus from Josh Colaco.
A minute later, Ashim made it 2-3, by tapping in a right-wing Sumit Bhakta cross. This was his 11th goal of the League, the highest among the Indians.
Dempo SC: Abhijit Mondal; Melvin Rodriguel (Ratan Singh, 55), Stanley Colaco, Jose Luciano, Sameer Naik; Lazarus Fernandes, Mario Soares, Clifford Miranda, Josh Colaco; E.B. Chenna, Bijen Singh (Levy Coello, 78).
Tollygunge Agragami: Sibram Dey; Isiaka Awoyemi, Sujit Neogi, Debkumar Shasmal, Biswarup Bishu; Soumen Mondal (Sumit Bhakta, 60), Moses Owira, Laltu Das, Sujay Dutta; Niladri Chakraborty, Ashim Biswas.
Referee: K. Sharat Chandra Singh (Manipur).