I-League 2018-19: Churchill Brothers salvage late win at home against NEROCA
I-League Media
Willis Plaza's late brace helped him draw level with Chennai City's Pedro Manzi in the race for the Golden Boot, both with 13 goals each...

Churchill Brothers kept it late to register all three points against NEROCA in a thirteenth round game of the 2018-19 I-League at the Tilak Maidan Ground in Goa on Saturday.

Defender Varney Kallon (24') had put the Imphal-based side ahead but Trinidadian striker Willis Plaza (85', 90+1') knocked up a brace in the dying embers of the game to force a turnaround.

Nenad Novakovic was back from suspension for the hosts and replaced the suspended Hussein Eldor. Manuel Fraile meanwhile, made two changes to his side that lost by a solitary goal against Mohun Bagan. Tondonba Singh came in along with Denechandram Meitei, who was back at his former stomping ground.

Churchill Brothers had the better of the opportunities but Chesterpoul Lyngdoh scuffed his shot wide in the third minute before Willis Plaza nearly found the right bottom corner after rounding Kallon in the 13th minute. 

NEROCA had their first shot on target in the 18th minute as Aryn Williams shot straight at James Kithan. The goalkeeper was then beaten completely against the run of play as Kallon flicked in Malemnganba Meitei's free-kick for the opener.

Plaza and Anthony Wolfe headed wide around the half hour mark as the home side continued putting down their chances. Richard Costa's shot from inside the box was also just about helped wide by Kallon after Nallappan Mohanraj's cross cum shot came off the horizontal in the 39th minute.

Dawda Ceesay Churchill Brothers NEROCA

Crossing over, Wolfe was sent through inside the box by Wayne but the former was only able to force a corner from Thapa before Katsumi Yusa sent his diving header wide off Felix Chidi's cross at the other end. 

Dawda Ceesay's direct free-kick was tipped over his bar by Lalit Thapa in the 56th minute, following which Plaza failed to get enough power behind his shot in order to beat the visitor's custodian. 

Kithan was at hand to make a crucial save by preventing Yusa from taking a shot off Chidi's cross in the box in the 67th minute there on.

It was a spectacular turn around by the home side starting with Plaza's 85th minute strike after a peach of a ball from midfield by Ceesay. It could have been two goals in as many minutes for Plaza as he shot the subsequent attempt wide but he did bag the winner in injury time as the former East Bengal striker nodded in an Israil Gurung corner.

The win took Churchill to second on the table with 25 points, the same as Real Kashmir but with a better goal difference. NEROCA stayed fifth with 21 points.

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