I-League: Five key results in Churchill Brothers’ second league triumph
Churchill Brothers‘ 1-1 draw with Mohun Bagan on Tuesday saw them lift their second-ever I-League title. The Goan club were by far the most consistent team but some performances stood out more than others. Sportskeeda lists their five key results in chronological order.
All Photo Credits to AIFF Media
Pune FC 0-1 Churchill Brothers (November 4 2012)
After losing to Dempo on the opening weekend, Churchill Brothers recorded comfortable home wins over ONGC and Mumbai FC to kickstart their season. But a trip to Pune FC would be their second real test of the campaign and they passed it by scoring the winner with virtually the last kick of the game. This was a game in which both sides were struggling to create clear cut chances in the first half but Pune were reduced to ten just before the halftime break when Caitano Costa was sent off. Despite the numerical advantage, Churchill were unable to dominate and hosts Pune actually created the better chances. The Goan club looked like dropping two points against a team that played with ten men for the entire second half until Henri Antchouet won a penalty, following a foul by Gurjinder Kumar. Beto converted the spot-kick by sending Pune keeper Shahinlal Meloly the wrong way as Churchill grabbed a priceless away win despite not being at their best.
Prayag United 1-2 Churchill Brothers (November 28 2012)
Prayag United were the big spenders of the 2012-13 I-League as they assembled a team of big names. So, any side would find it difficult against them and especially in Kolkata. Churchill needed an injury time goal to beat Lajong in Shillong four days ago and so it wasn’t a surprise to see their physical level drop in this game. Beto and Lebanese striker Akram Moghrabi were a bit subdued but a mistake from Prayag and India custodian Subrata Pal eventually allowed young Israil Gurung to put the visitors in front. Prayag started the second half strongly and were threatening to equalise but Churchill were defending solidly with Lebanese international Bilal Najjarin leading the back four. Against the run of play, the Goan side went two up through Bikramjit Singh and despite Beto’s sending off late on and a Bello Rassaq strike, Churchill held on for another important win. It was once again a case of Churchill defending well and taking their chances on the counter attack. A clinical and efficient performance!
East Bengal 0-3 Churchill Brothers (January 19 2013)
Churchill Brothers had a good first half of the season but defeats to Dempo and East Bengal, which was a 3-0 thumping at home, raised questions about their title credentials. This fixture was their chance to take control of the title race as a win would see them go four points clear of East Bengal. And so they did, thanks to a dominant display that made Trevor Morgan’s side look ordinary. Churchill looked strong at the back with Bilal producing a flawless performance at the heart of the defence while the young central midfield pairing of Lenny Rodrigues and Bikramjit outran and got the better of Mehtab Hossain and Penn Orji. Gabon striker Antchouet bagged a brace after two trademark deliveries from Steven Dias as Churchill comfortably led 2-0 at the break. In the second half, Subhash Bhowmick’s side played within themselves and rarely looked like conceding while Moghrabi wrapped up the points by netting the third late on. It was a thoroughly deserved win and sent out a title warning to the rest of the contenders.
Churchill Brothers 2-1 Pune FC (April 4 2013)
There were significant changes in personnel at Churchill Brothers in the winter transfer window as the impressive Lebanese duo Bilal and Moghrabi left for different reasons. The Churchill family faced a massive task of replacing the two but they, incredibly, managed to do that by signing foreigners Lamine Tamba and Balal Arezou and Indian captain Sunil Chhetri on loan from Sporting Lisbon ‘B’. But Churchill were not in great form coming into this potential title decider as they had just one win in five and also had to endure the physical demands of playing in the AFC Cup. Pune needed a win to come back into the title race but wasted a golden opportunity in the first half and Churchill made them pay in the second period. A mistake from Shahinlal allowed Bineesh Balan to score with a smart finish before Sunil produced a moment of magic to bag his first I-League goal for Churchill. Boima Karpeh’s strike ensured a nervy finish for Churchill Brothers but they held on and took a giant step towards a second league crown.
Mohun Bagan 0-2 Churchill Brothers (April 21 2013)
It was advantage Churchill Brothers in the title race but with Mohun Bagan fighting for their survival, both East Bengal and Pune FC were optimistic of the Goan club dropping points in this away fixture. Uniquely, East Bengal fans were supporting arch-rivals Mohun Bagan although most of them didn’t want to admit it. Churchill’s talisman Beto was only fit enough to be on the bench but crucially the Kolkata club’s only foreign defender Eche was suspended. His absence was felt as Antchouet and Sunil completely exposed an-all Indian back four with the former bagging a first half brace. With Odafa Okolie in their team, Mohun Bagan had the potential to fight back into the contest and the Nigerian did have plenty of attempts on goal but at least half of those were brilliantly saved by veteran custodian Sandip Nandy, who kept his 11th clean sheet of the campaign, the maximum by any keeper. Central defender Tamba also produced a strong performance as Churchill Brothers produced the goods under pressure in Kalyani to claim one hand on the I-League trophy.