The much anticipated clash between the two giants ended in anti-climax as Salt Lake Stadium witness a goalless affair...
By Anselm Noronha with Atanu Mitra at the stadium
East Bengal and Churchill Brothers played out a 0-0 draw in a round 17 I-League clash at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, on Tuesday evening.
Armando Colaco made four changes to his side from the one that beat Bengaluru FC 2-0 in the group stage of the Federation Cup with Mehtab Hossain and Ryuji Sueoka returning to the side. Abhishek Das and Gurwinder Singh were the other two new faces while Uga Okpara was missing due to an injury.
Meanwhile, Satish Singh replaced right wing back Denzil Franco as the latter was left out of the line-up due to personal reasons.
The visitors missed a golden chance to put themselves in the lead in the second minute itself as Alesh Sawant mistimed his shot from inside the box after Anthony Wolfe's initial attempt was blocked by East Bengal defender Gurwinder Singh.
Colaco's men also wasted their opportunity when a diagonal ball went unattended by the Churchill defense. However, it was a poor mispass from Shylo Malswantulunga in an attempt to find Edeh Chidi in a good scoring position in the sixth minute.
In the 12th minute, Christian Lagos and Wolfe got behind the East Bengal backline, but a square ball from the Costa Rican into the box saw the opportunity go begging.
Two minutes later, the hosts had a golden opening to take the lead but Lalrindika Ralte's header off a Hossain corner went wide.
A minute after the half hour mark, the Churchill defense was caught napping and Chidi did well to control the brilliant through-ball from Malswamtulunga, but his eventual shot from ten yards went off the mark.
The agony of missed chances continued after change of ends. Lagos headed wide a Wolfe cross in the 49th minute, while on the other side James Moga was too slow to react before Ravanan Dharmaraj could clear the danger in time.
Malswamtulunga dragged his shot wide from inside the box while Chidi followed suit a few minutes later.
Cavin Lobo was introduced for the ineffective Sueoka by Colaco hoping to inspire the Red and Gold brigade to capture all three points.
In what could have been a late winner, Chidi played a sublime through-ball to Malswamtulunga, but the latter's first touch let him down.
The draw sees East Bengal level on points (19) with Dempo SC, though the Kolkata outfit have played four matches less (12), while Churchill Brothers are only above Mohammedan Sporting and Rangdajied United with 14 points from 15 matches.
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