Churchill Brothers pip Shillong Lajong FC by solitary goal
In what was truly a game which neither team deserved to lose, the Reds lost out to visiting side Churchill Brothers by a solitary goal, thanks to an injury time wonder- strike by Lebanese forward Akram Moghrabi, who also got the man of the match award for his efforts.
The match was a 7th round I-League encounter between two teams with stark contrasts in past results. Shillong Lajong FC, the team known for its huge home crowds ,were once again backed by the Faithfuls who came out to lend their support to the Reds. For the Goan side though, the trip was a defining one, after losing to East Bengal by 3 goals.
As soon as the referee blew his whistle to signal the start of the game, the match panned out to be an even contest between two evenly matched sides. For every attack was countered with an equally competent defending display by either team, making it a match of which team will blink first. Churchill nearly drew first blood when a towering header by eventual goal-scorer Akram had Lajong keeper beat, only to see the ball kiss the post and go out of play, much to the crowd’s relief.
The first half came to a close with neither side troubling the score line. The second half though saw Shillong Lajong FC upping their game and the Reds should have got the lead when a goal bound shot went agonisingly wide of the mark, after beating the keeper. The game wore on with the home team using all of its three substitutes (Jacob for Lalramluaha – 46th minute, Samson for Sukore – 52nd minute, Boithang for Lalchuanmawia – 79th minute). The Jacob-Lalramluaha substitution though was forced upon the home team, after the mid-fielder picked up a knee injury. For Churchill, Indian international Steven Dias was substituted for Tomba Singh in the 48th minute and I Gurung came on for B Balan in the 68th minute.
The Reds almost made it count from the substitution, when Jacob drilled a superb shot past Nandy, the Churchill custodian but saw his shot hit the post, denying the Reds of a well deserved lead. The phase continued with Lajong repeatedly troubling the Churchill defence. Just as it looked that the game would end in a a draw-a fair result at that, the sheer brilliance of Akram took over. The Lebanese forward turned and curled the ball beautifully past Mawia to silence the stunned crowd. 0-1 it ended for the Reds and it was truly a cruel result for the home team, who had better possession and control, especially during the course of the second half.
The coaches echoed the same sentiments, saying that both the teams deserved a point a piece, more so the Churchill Coach, Mariano Dias, who said that the crowd got their money’s worth, and that the Goan side benefitted from a moment of brilliance from Akram. Churchill are now 2nd on the points table,with 15 points from seven games, while Shillong Lajong are on 7 points from as many outings, and will face Pailan Arrows on the 28th November 2012.