Churchill Brothers keep alive survival hopes
Fatorda (Goa), April 16 (IANS) Defending champions Churchill Brothers got a big boost in their quest for survival after putting it across East Bengal 1-0 in an I-League football clash at Nehru Stadium here Wednesday.
Raju Yumnam scored the only goal of the match in the 23rd minute to take Churchill just above the relegation zone with 22 points. Mohammedan Sporting are at the bottom of the pool with 21 points.
East Bengal were possibly the only challengers to Bengaluru FC and needed to win to keep the pressure on the league leaders. But at the start, there was no urgency from the visitors.
Without South Sudan striker James Moga, the Churchill defence had a relatively quiet time, even though Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi tried to work his way through.
Churchill were dangerous on the break. With Balwant Singh and Anthony Wolfe in fine form upfront, the East Bengal defenders hardly had any space to breathe.
Churchill came in waves at the start with Wolfe thwarted just in the nick of time by East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal. Balwant Singh had one of his attempt sail past the post while Jaison Vales hesitated in taking a crack at goal.
East Bengal did not have too many good and clear looks at the rival goal. Lalrindika Ralte took Churchill goalkeeper Lalit Thapa by surprise with a snap shot. Besides Lalrindika’s attempt, Joaquim Abranches too tested the goalkeeper but without much luck.
Churchill Brothers stunned the visitors in the 23rd minute from a counter attack initiated by Jaison Vales. The Churchill midfielder picked out Raju Yumnam making a fine run on the left, who saw Thangjam Singh unmarked just outside the box. Singh tried to try his luck but only ended passing the ball to Raju whose close-range attempt sailed into the back of the net for the opening goal.
In the second session, East Bengal came hard at their Goan rivals but could not give finishing touches. The best chances fell at the feet of Chidi but the Nigerian striker first shot straight at the goalkeeper and then blasted wide from close range.
At the other end, Churchill could have killed the game as a contest if their strikers were sharp enough. Balwant failed to head home a brilliant cross from the right by Wolfe and later Wolfe himself targeted the goalkeeper after being put through by Abdelhamid Shabana.
East Bengal were handicapped for the last 10 minutes of the match after captain Harmanjyot Khabra was sent off for a second bookable offence.