Trailing 0-2 at half time, Sports Authority of India fought back to hold Indian Bank 2-2 in the St Joseph’s-CFA Senior Division League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday. R Karthick’s first-half goals gave IB the initiative into break, only to be annulled by H Ameerudeen’s second-half brace.
Given the penetrative verve SAI demonstrated in the second half, they had more reasons to repent over not pouching full points. Conversely, Indian Bank would have been relieved to emerge unscathed after an inept latter half, wherein they had just one shot at goal. But none of SAI early attempts manifested in goals, with both Ameerudeen and Mijo Jose missing from long range. And then in a swift counter-attack, IB secured lead in the 11th minute.
Ogele Antony Agu’s long ball, a few paces off the centre-line, was serenely acknowledged by P Karthick, who tricked his marker and served to R Karthick, prowling unmarked at the far post. The latter just had to place the ball, which he did without fuss. The pair orchestrated their second goal (27th minute), only that it was scrappily achieved and aided by goalkeeper Mohdudoom Naina’s lousy clearance. A comeback seemed improbable for SAI as IB’s defensive quartet seemed assured. But SAI returned determined and made persistent inroads into the opponent fort. Though they were often lethargic in completing passes, they persevered and IB goalkeeper’s dilemma trimmed their deficit in the 55th min. Thereafter, SAI pressed forth for the equaliser, and IB couldn’t find means to revert the mounting pressure. That they had just one shy at goal testified their loosened grip on the match. The only thing that could save them was SAI’s profligacy, which they lived up to until Ameerudeen fetched their equaliser in the 81st min, again with a smear of accident. P Pushparaj’s attempted header on goal looped to Ameerudeen, who parried it home.
IB 2 (R Karthick 11, 27) drew SAI 2 (H Ameerudeen 55, 81); 1st division: DBYC 9 bt Chennai Port Trust 2.