The north eastern side recorded their third consecutive draw as they managed to hold off the Churchill challenge on a Sunday afternoon...
Churchill Brothers SC failed to capitalise on their chances against a resilient United Sikkim at the Paljor Stadium as the game ended in a 0-0 draw on matchday nine of the I-League. With 19 points , Churcill are placed third on the table while United Sikkim are still very much in the bottom half of the standings with a paltry seven points to show from nine matches.
Bhaichung Bhutia named an unchanged eleven from the one that started in the 3-3 draw against Air India in the midweek. Mariano Dias was forced to start with Henri Antchouet in place of the suspended Beto while Israil Gurung was surprisingly dropped in favour of Bikramjeet Singh.
The Goan side took time to adjust to the artificial turf at the Paljor Stadium and the pace of the game was slow. Neither side made any attacking forays or openings as they preferred to be cautious.
The first real attempt to score came in the 25th minute when United Sikkim’s Shahensha Ansari’s effort from 25 yards out sailed over the crossbar.
Bikramjeet Singh had a decent opportunity just before the half hour mark as goalkeeper Monotosh Ghosh was out of position and the ball fell for the Churchill midfielder. Bikramjeet’s effort went over the bar much to the disappointment of the Churchill bench.
Sandhesh Jhingan had an opportunity to get on the scoresheet as he headed wide from a Michael Rodriguez corner-kick in the 30th minute.
Just before the end of the first half, Monotosh Ghosh did well to deny the away side a chance to go into the half-time with a lead. Antchouet played in a ball towards Bikramjeet who crossed for Akram Moghrabi but the United Sikkim custodian just about managed to avert the danger.
At the start of the second half, Dias introduced Steven Dias for Bineesh Balan who didn’t have one of the best outings.
The former Mahindra United wide man made his contribution as his pinpoint cross for Moghrabi saw the latter chest it down and his shot from an acute angle was blocked by the Sikkim goalkeeper in the 64th minute.
Five minutes later, Antchouet did well to get behind the Snow Lions’ defence but the Gabonese striker hesitated for a moment or two and allowed Anwar Ali and Sandesh Jhingan to track back and seize the ball from him.
The home team too had an opportunity to surge ahead when Nurudeen Salau and substitute Nima Tamang missed a long ball from their own half when the strike duo were completely unmarked by the Churchill defence.
In the 71st minute, Lenny Rodrigues wore the creative cap and sent in a cross from the left for Akram whose header was kept by Monotosh Ghosh. United Sikkim could have snatched away three points as Nurudeen Salau’s close range header in the injury time was brilliantly saved by an alert Sandip Nandy in the Churchill goal.
Monotosh Ghosh was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award for his heroics between the sticks as he ensured that his side at least earned a point from the game.
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