KOCHI: Army XI held Salgaocar Goa to a goalless draw in the ONGC second division NFL league match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday. Salgaocar came up with a scratchy effort against a tenacious side, which gave scant respect to its rival's reputation.
After an initial Goan flourish, the army men cut out the frills and played defensively with intentions of curbing the free flowing game of the Goans. The Army defence soaked up the pressure admirably especially in the second half and kept danger men R.C. Prakash and Felix Chimaokwu on a tight leash.
The result would have been different if Prakash had converted the two chances he got early in the first half. On both occasions it was Felix who did the hard work but Prakash couldn't complement his partner.
The first chance to break the deadlock came in the 10th minute when a lovely flick on by Felix released Prakash on the right flank. The striker moved into the box but shot straight into the goalkeeper's hands.
Missing a sitter
The second chance was even easier. Felix broke free on the left flank wing and centred the ball, which beat the entire Army defence and came to Prakash who failed to control the ball and managed to send it wide with the goalkeeper hopelessly out of position.
The Delhi side plugged the holes in the defence and played more aggressively. It used the pace of Ngernilal and Hemant Lama to unsettle the Goan defence. Though the Goan defence was equal to the task for once Lama managed to sneak in a cross which was headed into the cross piece by M. Raghu Kumar in the 44th minute.
Struggle for the Goans
The Goans struggled in the second half and failed to create a decent chance. With both Prakash and Felix being bottled up nicely by the Army defence, the Goan attack lost its sting and its dominance in the midfield hardly had any effect on the outcome of the match.
Army men followed the same pattern of attack and gave many uncomfortable moments to its rival in counter attacks and it was best illustrated in a 35-yard free-kick by Dileep, which was tipped over by the Salgaocar goalkeeper. Principal Correspondent