United Sports Club shook off the diffidence arising from a pre-season crisis of funds by posting a winning start to its I-League campaign. Having conscripted a team volunteering to play without taking a contract advance, United SC rode on the spirit of this rare camaraderie to down debutant Rangdajied United FC of Shillong 2-0 in a first-round match here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
The Nigeria-Liberia combination of Ranti Martins and Eric Brown in the United SC attack came good as the two strikers shared the goals in the second session.
United SC almost took the lead in the 21st minute, but for a spectacular save by Rangdajied custodian Surajy Kumar Paryar, who blocked successive efforts from Martins and C.K. Vineeth.
The visitor showed the right intent despite being on the backfoot and put pressure on the home side with some fine counterattacks.
Upfront, Sandesh Gadkari and Brazilian Edmar Figueira remained wasteful in front of goal, both having a chance each in the first half.
Riding on a strategic realignment by Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie, United SC showed more purpose after the break. Martins and Brown stepped up their forays into the Rangdajied box and succeeded in breaking the resolve of the opposing defence.
The host earned the break off a set-piece in the 64th minute, with Brown floating a measured free-kick inside the box and Martins finishing expertly.
Encouraged by the lead, United SC doubled its efforts for the insurance goal, which came 11 minutes later off a brilliant finish from Brown.
The Liberian striker shielded his marker and essayed an angular left-footer.
The ball made its way home with Paryar standing motionless, apparently stupefied by the perfection of the shot.
United SC 2 (Ranti Martins 64, Eric Brown 75) bt Rangdajied United 0.
At Mapusa: Shillong Lajong (Cornell Glen 30 & 67, Boithang Haokip 38) bt Dempo 0.