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AFC Cup: Semen Padang 3-1 Churchill Brothers – Goan club’s second string go down fighting

Semen Padang 3 (Wilson 24, 65, Bonai 48) Churchill Brothers 1 (Bineesh Balan 50)

Semen Padang: Fakhrurrazi; Yoseph Ostanika (Hendra Bayauw 46), Ricky Ohorella, Jajang Paliama (Novan Setya 64), Akhmad Aries Tuansyah, Saepuloh Maulana; Elie Aiboy (Muhammad Nur Iskandar 74) , Muhammad Rizal, Vendry Ronaldo Moro, Edward Junior Wilson, Titus Bonai

Churchill Brothers: Lalit Thapa, Sanjay Balmuchu, Naveen Kumar, Saran Singh, Jaison Vales, Steven Dias (Gurtej Singh 49) , Raju Yumnam (Lionel Rodrigues 79), Asley Fernandes, Richard Costa, Bineesh Balan, Balal Arezou (Israil Gurung 71)

Photo Credit: Churchill Brothers Media

Photo Credit: Churchill Brothers Media

Churchill Brothers ended their AFC Cup campaign with a defeat, as their second-string side were beaten 3-1 by Group E winners Semen Padang in Indonesia on Wednesday. Liberian striker Edward Junior Wilson put the Indonesian club in front in the first half and Churchill’s task got even tougher at the start of the second period when Naveen Kumar was controversially sent off.

Titus Bonai doubled Padang’s advantage but the Goan club pulled one back immediately through Bineesh Balan and were threatening to equalise with ten men until Wilson bagged his second and made it 3-1. Churchill ended the game strongly and were very unlucky not to score again.

The I-League leaders end their campaign with four points and finish third in the group, ahead of Singapore’s Warriors FC, who were beaten 5-0 by Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC in the other game.

With this match virtually being a dead rubber, Churchill travelled to Indonesia with a very inexperienced squad and thus their starting lineup had very little I-League experience. Wide midfielder Steven Dias was the only India international in the eleven while Afghan striker Balal Arezou was the only available foreigner, and he started upfront alongside the highly talented Bineesh.

Padang too had a few fringe players in their starting lineup but Liberian striker Wilson, who had six goals in four AFC Cup games prior to this clash, started, as did club captain Elie Aiboy and the highly rated Titus Bonai.

The hosts, who are yet to lose a game in all competitions, were dominant in the opening stages with Wilson causing the young center back pairing of Sanjay Balmuchu and Naveen all sorts of problems.

Bonai also looked dangerous in the early stages as his cross-field passes and delivery from set-pieces gave Churchill and their goalkeeper for the day, Lalit Thapa a few scares.

The opening goal, however, came from the combination of a mistake and some individual brilliance. Jaison Vales was caught in possession just inside the Padang half and the ball was soon passed to Wilson who used his strength and skill to go past three Churchill players before slotting past Thapa.

Padang were deservingly in front but after the goal they played within themselves and thus didn’t add to the scoreline before the halftime break.

The second half got off to the worst possible start for the Indian club as young Naveen was sent off for a professional foul on Wilson, just outside the box. The referee thought Naveen to be the last man when he brought down Wilson but the youngster did have some team-mates around and was a bit unlucky to see a straight red.

From the resulting freekick Bonai doubled Padang’s advantage. It was a vintage strike from the Indonesian international and it looked to have put the game to bed as early as the 48th minute.

But Churchill were immediately back into the contest as Raju Yumnam’ cross was glanced into the back of the net by Bineesh. The 25-year-old, who is the only Indian to score a hat-trick in this season’s I-League, showed great desire to get on the end of a teasing cross and place it past Padang keeper Fakhrurrazi.

The hosts were a bit casual, while on the other hand, Churchill’s youngsters and fringe players were showing plenty of character with ten men. Arezou had been quiet in the first half but he nearly scored the equaliser after a fine solo run from the left side.

But any hopes of a Churchill Brothers comeback were ended by Wilson who brought down a cross from the right before out-muscling Balmuchu and finishing past the helpless Thapa. It was the Liberian’s eighth goal in five AFC Cup matches this season.

The Goan club, however, refused to give up as they kept pressing high up the pitch with intensity and had couple of great opportunities to reduce the deficit.

Both sides committed plenty of fouls and Churchill nearly benefited from a couple of free kicks. First, Vales was desperately unlucky to rattle the bar after a thunderous effort from 25 yards. Minutes later Vales delivered a free kick from the right flank but an unmarked Saran Singh couldn’t hit the target.

At the other end, Wilson had chances to bag his hat-trick but he was wasteful and was also denied by Thapa on a couple of occasions.

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