Dempo Sports Club juniors left it late against Sporting Clube de Goa as a Romeo Fernandes goal, 12 minutes from time ensured a point for Dempo and guaranteed them a place in the final round of the U-20 I-League.
The game started with Dempo needing just a point to guarantee themselves a ticket to Kalyani in West Bengal. Coach Mathew D’Costa made one change to the starting line up. Bharat Thapa replaced Seriton fernandes at right back while Jeovito fernandes was moved ahead in the right half position. The rest of the team remained unchanged. The ground conditions made it difficult for Dempo to play their natural passing game and they were forced to make sporadic forays into the box. Sporting too rarely threatened the Dempo citadel until Pritam Singh breached the Dempo defense and gave Flaming Oranje the lead in the 33rd minute. A cross from Jolan Fernandes from the left met the feet of Pritam Singh who slotted it past an outstretched Dempo keeper Agnelo D’Souza.
Dempo had a brilliant chance to equalize just before the break but Romeo Fernandes’ shot came of the last defender although it looked like he had cleared it with the help of his arm. The referee however thought otherwise.
Earlier Sporting had a great chance to make it 2-0 but Jolan fernandes blasted wide with the keeper at his mercy. After the change of ends and some harsh words from Mathew D’Costa in the dressing room, Dempo came all guns blazing but failed to get the equalizer and were time and again frustrated by the Sporting defense. However their perseverance paid off as Brain Mascarenhas’s cross was calmly finished by Romeo Fernandes. In the closing stages Brain hit the woodwork, else Dempo would have come away with all three points.
Dempo coach Mathew D’Costa was pleased with the result but was not satisfied with the performance.
“I am happy with the result because we have qualified but not so much with the performance. The ground condition was not to our liking and it did not suit our style of play”, remarked the Margao based coach.
Dempo will know who qualifies along with them from the Goa group after todays game between Salgaocar Sports Club and Churchill Brothers. The Varca based side need just a point to join Dempo Sports Club, Prayag United and Shillong Lajong in West Bengal. The final two teams will be decided on 29th of April when the Mumbai group culminates.