The draw ensures that the Goan side retain their second place in the group and remain India's only hope to make it to the AFC Cup knock-out stages.
Churchill Brothers played out a 1-1 draw against Indonesian outfit Persipura Jayapura in their penultimate league match in the Group E of the AFC Cup on Wednesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Boaz Solossa had put the visitors ahead in the 77th minute, but it was Balwant Singh who restored parity six minutes later to earn a point.
Titus Bonai pulled the trigger in the very first minute of the game, though the shot sailed over the bar. It was the start of a number of attacks by the away side however Lalit Thapa in goal hardly was made to sweat.
Abdelhamid Shabana went down inside the opponent box with the slightest of touch, but the referee was not interested as he turned down the vehement appeals for a penalty.
In the 27th minute, Thapa produced a magnificent double save to keep Churchill in the game when he saved Boaz Solossa’s powerful drive from close range, and reacted brilliantly again to hold on to the rebound from Imanuel.
On the half hour mark, Ian Kabes put in a great cross from the right flank to find Bonai who couldn’t connect his shot well though he had only the goalkeeper to beat.
The best chance of the half however fell to Churchill as Jaison Vales fluffed his chance from three yards out with the uneven bounce making it difficult for him to bring it under his control.
The second half started with Vales being the culprit again as he took one touch too many to dribble past a defender after some good work from Anthony Wolfe on the left flank.
Persipura finally managed to find an opening in the 76th minute when skipper Solossa tapped in from a pass by Ferinando Pahabol.
However, the lead didn't last long as Churchill equalised soon after. Wolfe fed Balwant with a quality pass inside the box and goalkeeper Yoo Jae Hoon had thwarted the first effort. Balwant latched on the rebound to slot it home with ease.
Balwant had another golden opportunity to win full points for his side when he brilliantly controlled a through ball sent in by Shabana. But a last ditch tackle from Daniel Tata parried away the danger.
With this draw, Churchill have seven points from five matches, the same as Singapore's Home United, but a better head-to-head record will allow the Goan outfit to secure a berth in the knock-out stages of the continental competition, even if these two teams play out a draw in their final game.