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JCT fail to weave magic at home

The men from Punjab played out their second successive 0-0 home draw, this time against Dempo in a Round Four match of the NFL, reports Arjun Sen.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 00:47 IST
Arjun Sen

It is often said that league football delivers the soundest appraisal of a club’s condition. And if that is indeed the case, then JCT are in a spot of bother. On Monday, the men from Punjab played out their second successive 0-0 home draw, this time against Dempo in a Round Four match of the NFL.

Worse still, for JCT, was the fact that they were lucky to avoid defeat in a match where the better chances fell to the Goan side. After last week’s goalless draw against another Goan club, Churchill Brothers, JCT coach Sukwinder Singh would have been desperately looking to take all three points from this match.

Sukwinder would have been optimistic after seeing his team’s start to the match. Both his strikers, Sunil Chhetri and Chidi Edeh, came close to scoring in the opening 10 minutes. While Chhetri almost connected his head to Renedy Singh’s beautifully-floated free-kick, Chidi saw his low drive half-saved by Dempo ’keeper Satish Kumar.

JCT had a strong penalty claim — the first of two — turned down when Chhetri appeared to have been brought down from behind just as he was getting ready to pull the trigger.

It took Dempo almost 25 minutes to produce their first shot at the JCT goal, Beto’s shot from just outside the area neatly held by ’keeper Karanjit Singh. The visitors were slowly but surely getting into the match, especially down the left, where the duo of Sameer Naik and Clifford Miranda were finding a lot of open spaces.

However, it was from the right that Dempo came closest to scoring in the first half. A lovely cross, which had been preceded by a surging run, from Peter Carvalho deserved to be put away, and nearly was too — inadvertently although — by JCT defender, Jaspal Singh, who saw the ball hit his foot and loop just over the goal.

Dempo were fast assuming a place of dominance in the match and came even closer within two minutes of the second half. This time through, Beto, whose header from Clifford Miranda’s free kick crashed against the post.

JCT, however, continued to conjure the odd-chance and had their second penalty claim waved off in the 60th minute. Chhetri and Dempo’s Mateck Bolaji chased down a long ball from the defence and it was the diminutive striker who was winning the race when Bolaji seemed to lean in with his arm to stop Chhetri in his tracks.

The entire stadium erupted with shouts of ‘penalty’ but the only man who mattered, the referee, turned down the vociferous appeals.

With time fast running out, the game became an open one with both teams throwing everyone in attack. This end-to-end affair left a lot of space at the back for either to exploit and Dempo’s Valeriano Rebelo nearly did just that — his long ranger going just over, much to the disappointment of his coach Armando Colaco.

The last 15 minutes saw a lot of neat build-up from either team, but no end product.