State Bank of Travancore [ Get Quote ], Thiruvananthapuram managed to hold formidable Salgaocar Sports Club to a 1-1 draw in the National Football League for the ONGC [ Get Quote ] Cup in Kozhikode on Sunday.
SBT goalkeeper Jean Christian was the hero of the day as he saved his team from certain defeat by coming up with excellent saves at least on three occasions, the last one being minutes before the close of play.
Going into the game in search of an outright win to move up the table, SBT, who are almost on the brink of relegation, scored the opener in the 14th minute when Mohammed Rafi [ Images ] netted the goal through a header from Paul Antony's corner.
The bankmen should blame themselves for not being able to further widen the lead when Abdul Hakkim failed to convert a sharp cross from Mohammed Aslam in the 30th minute.
Salgaocar's Francis Andrape almost scored the equaliser in the 37th minute when he had only SBT's goalkeeper to beat after collecting the ball near the goalmouth. But, the latter not only saved Andrape's first attempt but also neatly blocked a rebound.
SBT suddenly went on the defensive in the second half hoping to complete the proceedings 1-0. However, Salgaocar captain Nigerian Bello Razaq had other ideas when he neatly converted a corner from Brazilian Fabio Dos Passos in the 76th minute to level the score.
SBT's Shivakumar, who came in as a substitute, could have netted the all-important goal three minutes before the end, but he suddenly fell after taking the ball till a few yards near the rival goal end where Salgaocar's custodian, Juje Siddi was left alone.
A minute later, Salgaocar almost went on to seal the verdict in their favour when substitute, Samson Singh came up with a powerful hit after collecting a neat pass from another Nigerian Felix Iberobru.
However, SBT custodian Christian, who was later named the man-of-the-match, rolled down to his left to collect the ball neatly much to the chagrin of the Goan team.
Salgaocar has 23 points from 19 matches, while SBT continue to remain at the bottom of the table with 14 points from as many outings.
SBT will take on Sporting Club, Goa [ Images ] in their next match in Kozhikode on May 4.