Akeraj Martins rescues Sporting Goa against Gokulam Kerala in AWES Cup
Written by: Ravish R Narvekar
The Goan side need a point from their next match to qualify for the semis.
Super-sub Akeraj Martins scored a last-gasp goal as Sporting Clube de Goa held Gokulam Kerala FC to a 1-1 draw in the AWES Cup 2018 match played at Tilak Maidan, Vasco, earlier today.
Gokulam's Argentine head coach Fernando Santiago made five changes to his side, following a shocking defeat at the hands of ONGC FC in the last match, as Brazilian midfielder Thiago Fernandes and Yamboi Moirang made it into the starting XI after starting from the bench in the last match. Nasar PA, Abhishek Das and Bijesh Balan were the other changes in the lineup for the Kerala side.
Whereas, Sporting made only two changes to his side which blanked SESA FA in the last match, as head coach Mateus Costa brought in speedy winger Alesh Sawant and defender Schubert D’costa in the starting XI.
The match started with possession football from the Kerala side, but it was Sporting who were the first to break the Gokulam defense in the 13th minute, when Glan Marting found skipper Victorino Fernandes with just the keeper to beat, but the striker failed to put power in his shot from inside the box, as Gokulam keeper Arnab Sharma made an easy collection.
Skipper Victorino wasted another chance to take Sporting into the lead in the 26th minute, as this time Alesh fed him with a fine headed pass, but the forward shot wide from 18 yards with just the opposition keeper to beat.
Gokulam punished the hosts for wasting chances and opened their tally in the very next minute, when Nasar snatched the ball from Sporting midfielder Alton Vaz and covered some ground, before slotting the ball home from inside the box to make it 1-0 for his side.
Nasar had the best chance to double their lead in first half added-time, when Gani Ahammed squared the ball to him in the box, but the midfielder failed to keep his shot on target as the visitors went into the breather with a slender 1-0 lead.
Sporting coach Costa made two changes at halftime, as Marcus Mascarenhas and Cajetan Fernandes replaced Alesh and Alton Vaz respectively.
However, Gokulam started the second session on an attacking note as they had a chance to double their lead in the 47th minute, when their skipper Suhair was left with just the keeper to beat, but Sporting custodian Melroy Fernandes came off the line to block him. The ball later travelled to Thiago whose shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by defender Clive Miranda.
This was the only time when the visitors produced a clear chance as the rest of the half belonged to Sporting.
At the hour mark, Cajetan went for glory from distance, only to be denied by the crossbar. Two minutes later, Gokulam were lucky to escape without a penalty when their Argentine defender Fabricio Ortiz clearly handled the ball inside the box but, referee Savio Fernandes overlooked the incident.
Sporting had two more clear-cut chances in the last quarter of the match but first Marcus headed wide off Quan Gomes cross, while, Quan himself shot over the crossbar from the top of the box with rival’s goal completely open.
Gokulam were reduced to ten men in the 87th minute, when substitute Shahbas Saleel was shown a second yellow card, for a tackle on Clive.
When it was looking like, the Kerala side will take away all the points, Sporting found the equaliser with just 15 seconds remaining in added-time. Skipper Victorino made a superb through pass to Glan in the box, who found substitute Akeraj Martin with a low cross. The striker made an easy tap-in to make it all square for the Flaming Orange.
Published: Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:08 PM IST