Internet Desk: Churchill Brothers secured their first point of the Hero I-League 2017-18 season by holding league leaders Kingfisher East Bengal to a 1-1 draw at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Monday (January 8, 2018).
Kingfisher East Bengal took the lead through Jobby Justin (26′) before Koffi Mechac (75′) levelled things as they split the points.
Churchill Brothers were in search of their first points of the season while East Bengal were looking to consolidate their position at the top. And the two sides showed a sense of urgency from the first minute.
There were some new faces in the Churchill Brothers line-up with the likes of Koffi Mechac, Jovel Martins, Wayne Vaz and Britto PM coming into the team.
As for the visitors, Mohammed Rafique was brought into the squad by Khalid Jamil.
After a lot of sparring, the first goalscoring chance came in the 10th minute when Churchill Brothers winger Nicholas Fernandes bombed down the left flank and put in a low cross into the box. Uttam Rai tried to steer the ball into the net with an outstretched leg but it went wide.
East Bengal goalkeeper Luis Barreto had to make another timely save after Uttam Rai almost got on the end of a Koffi through ball.
As the tempo of the game was starting to drop, it came alive in the 25th minute.
A promising attacking move saw Churchill medio Peter Omoduemuke attempting a volley that sailed well over the bar.
But in the very next minute, East Bengal stunned Churchill Brothers with a brilliant counter-attacking move.
Laldanmawia Ralte was having a pristine day at the office and the right winger raced down the by-line before delivering a teasing low cross into the box. He found striker Jobby Justin in the middle, who had no hesitation to steer the ball into the net with a diving header.
The Churchill Brothers defence was guilty of not closing down the forward as he got in behind two defenders and simply nodded the ball past James Kithan.
The momentum was with East Bengal and they started pushing the home side back and Mahmoud Amna almost doubled the lead when he tried to slot the ball across keeper James Kithan but it went wide of the far post.
There were a few half-chances for East Bengal as they went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, East Bengal created the first opportunity in the 53rd minute when right back Lallram Chullova tried to pick out Justin in the middle but the forward couldn’t get on the end of it.
At the other end, Omoduemuke tried an audacious shot from nearly 30 yards out which went over. There was very little goalmouth action until Koffi scored a blinder in the 75th minute.
Yusa Katsumi tried a solo run into the Churchill Brothers box but lost the ball and Churchill broke free.
The counter-attacking move saw a quick interchange of passes which saw Koffi cutting in from the right and unleashed a curling shot that beat Barreto and went in at the far post to make it 1-1.
Churchill Brothers had another golden opportunity to take the lead when Britto floated a ball into the net from the right. Uttam couldn’t time his run as the ball rolled out of danger.
The game ended 1-1 as Churchill Brothers got their campaign up and running.