Hosts Goa backed by a vociferous home support, stuttered and sputtered on the final third to scrap out a goalless draw against 31-time title-holder West Bengal in their second game at GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Thursday in the ongoing Santosh Trophy.
The first chance to score from either side came in the sixth when Goa’s U-21 player Assumption Soares from a through ball sent a cross on the right flank to his captain Francisco Fernandes who found himself in an awkward position with his ensuing header proving to be a feeble effort on target.
On the 12th minute, at the other end, West Bengal’s forward, Manvir Singh fed a sumptuous delivery by team-mate Moirangthem Basanta Singh missed out on a sitter with only the advancing opposition custodian to beat. Goa, on the 25th minute made a good foray into the attacking third but the sturdy West Bengal citadel thwarted three successive blocks initiated by U-21 player, Latesh Mandrekar. West Bengal’s midfielder, Mumtaz Akhtar had a long-ranger shy at goal in the 36th minute which went well above the horizontal. Four minutes later, Goa’s dynamic U-21 midfielder, Leander D’Cunha made a stunning strike from a fair distance out from the rival box sailing over the Bengali defenders in Ankit Mukherjee, captain Rana Gharami and Provat Lakra (U-21) but found their shot-stopper, Sankar Roy to the rescue. Not to be outdone, West Bengal minutes later had a fair chance with their forward Manvir Singh who was found wanting.
Shortly before the lemon break, West Bengal’s defender Ankit Mukherjee in act of fair play overruled the on-field referee’s decision in their favour and deliberately kicked the ball out of play.
Early into the second half, off a Mumtaz Akhtar corner kick, the home side was given a close call. The visitors on the 54th minute had another go at the Goa horizontal, with Bengal’s Manvir Singh unleashing a powerful strike from outside the box with the Goan goal-keeper, Agnelo Gomes up to the task. As the game grew on, both sides upped the tempo and intent to break the deadlock.
On the 67th minute, Bengal’s U-21 medio, Debasis Pradshan angled in a good strike from close range but the alert Goa custodian stood tall. In the meanwhile, Goa’s Leander had another scoring chance on the 73rd minute but could not convert.