A Shahinlal Meloly mis-pass allowed Churchill to take the lead through Balan, before Sunil Chhetri doubled it. Boima Karpeh's goal proved to be a mere consolation for Pune FC...Churchill Brothers moved well clear of Pune FC in the title race, as they defeated the Red Lizards 2-1, in an I-League encounter at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco, on Friday.
Bineesh Balan put the Red Machines ahead in the 58th minute, as Churchill Brothers made the most of a Shahinlal Meloly slip-up. Sunil Chhetri doubled his side's advantage in the 63rd minute, before Boima Karpeh pulled one back in injury time.
Balal Arezou started his first match for Churchill Brothers in the I-League, as Beto was out injured. The Goans were playing in a 4-3-3 formation, with Tomba Singh taking the place of Steven Dias on the right wing.
Derrick Pereira had a front-pair of Jeje Lalpekhlua and James Moga, and a strong looking defense comprising of Chika Wali and Anas Edathodika as the two center backs, playing in a 4-4-2 arrangement.
Arezou had the first chance in the match in the 11th minute, but the Afghan striker wasn't able to connect to Henri Antchouet's cross from the left, while the latter himself shot wide four minutes later.
Sunil Chhetri did well to release Antchouet, but the Gabonese striker wasn't able to play the ball back to his team-mate, as Pune FC defender Chika Wali effectively averted the danger in the 21st minute.
Amongst the best of the chances that fell to the away side, Karma Tsewang managed to catch Churchill keeper Sandip Nandy out of his area and fired a shot on target, but Denzil Franco's timely intervention prevented the ball from entering the back of the net.
Churchill technical director Subhash Bhowmick made a change just after half-time that earned the Goans the opener in the second half, after Bineesh Balan was brought in place of a relatively ineffective Bikramjit Singh.
The Pune FC goalkeeper's mistimed clearance found Antchouet, who set-up Balan on the left, and the Churchill substitute found the back of the net from an acute angle in the 58th minute.
Five minutes later, Denzil Franco's cross from the right was back-healed by Antchouet towards Chhetri, who blasted a shot from outside the box into the back of the net, to score his first I-League goal for Churchill Brothers.
Then in the 66th minute, Antchouet could have made it 3-0, after deceiving both PFC keeper Meloly and defender Gurjinder and had only Wali to beat, but shot straight at the only man in between the sticks.
Chhetri and Arezou had their respective shots blocked in the following minutes in which Pune FC's Moga saw his header go wide too. Another desperate attempt by the South Sudanese striker was blocked by Churchill keeper Nandy in the 82nd minute.
Substitute Boima Karpeh eventually pulled a goal back in the 91st minute, after being played in by Moga, as the Liberia-born Australian slammed the ball home from outside the box.
However that proved to be only a consolation goal for the visitors, as Churchill held on for a 2-1 win, moving to 47 points in the process, five clear of East Bengal.
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