KOZHIKODE: Viva Kerala did well to hold Salgaocar SC to a 1-1 draw after conceding an early goal in the ONGC I-League here on Wednesday.
The host in fact had come so strongly back in the second half that it could actually have won the game.
Nigerian striker Ekene Ikenva had put the Goans ahead in the 14th minute before skipper M.P. Sakeer scored the equaliser for Viva in the 54th.
Viva had looked keen to avenge its 0-1 loss to Salgoacar last month at Margao in the league and with Reuben Senyo setting up a few opportunities for his colleagues up front early on in the game it was a promising beginning by the host.
Viva, however, failed to sustain the pressure on the Goan half and would soon find itself a goal down thanks to some sloppy work from its defenders and goalkeeper K. Sharath. Ikenva's strike from close in was far from scorching but Sharath failed to collect the ball properly despite getting both his hands to it; he could only watch in despair as the ball slowly made it past the goal-line.
The host did get a few chances to equalise before long; one of them was saved, almost from the goal-line by Melvyn Rodrigues, who had a good game in the Salgoacar defence, as he denied T. Karma in the 24th minute. As the first half came to a close, it was Salgoacar which was calling the shots, clearly.
After the interval, however, Viva played with more passion and energy.
And much to the relief of the sparse home supporters, it scored nine minutes into the second half, off a well-orchestrated move down the right, featuring P. Rahul, Senyo, Sirajuddin and Sakeer, who gave the finishing touch nicely from well inside the box.
Viva now has 15 points from 14 games, while Salgaocar has 14. — Principal Correspondent