Kolkata: The tactical contest between Dutchman Eelco Schattorie and Englishman David Booth had no clear winner as their respective teams Prayag United SC and Salgaocar SC played a 1-1 draw to keep the honours even in the seventh round match of the I-League at Salt Lake Stadium.
Prayag United, which was looking to consolidate its second position in the league standings with back-to-back wins at home in the previous two rounds, suffered the first reverse under its new coach. It was the first point for Booth, who had lost the previous two rounds after fully assuming charge of the Goa side following the departure of Moroccan Karim Bencherifa.
Prayag United could not summon the form of its previous two matches as Salgaocar applied breaks on its free-flowing game putting a tough policing. The first half saw less on the offensive front as the two teams focused more on the build-up. The first chance came Salgaocar’s way in the 17th minute but Sean Rooney, the Australian striker, could not reach a through pass from midfielder Gilbert Oliviera. Getting its act together Prayag United started attacking midway through the first half and found an opportunity in the 27th minute, which was sent wide by Costa Rican Carlos Hernandes.
With goal route refusing to open in the usual procedure, Salgaocar utilised the first set-piece opportunity – a corner. Augustine Fernandes headed in a finely curled corner from Randeep Singh to give Salgaocar the advantage of leading the half 1-0.
The home team sought to regroup after the break as Schattorie brought in a few changes early to push for more attack. Hernandes, the mainstay of Prayag United attack, was replaced by Mohammad Rafique as Gouranga Biswas came in to speed up the flanks in place of Lester Fernandes. The move paid dividends as Prayag United found the equaliser in the 58th minute. The goal came from a dead-ball situation when Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq bulged the Salgaocar net with a free-kick taken from a couple of yards outside the box. The equaliser encouraged Prayag United to go for the lead did not happen as Rafiq shot wide off an open goal and the Nigerian goal-machine Ranty Martins found his angular attempt in the 65th minute coming off the upright.
The drawn result took Prayag United’s points to 14 from seven matches while Salgaocar had six points from seven rounds.