Churchill Brothers take a point home from Gokulam Kerala’s den

Churchill Brothers’s visit to the EMS Stadium didn’t prove entirely fruitless as it managed to fetch them a point after a 1-1 draw with title aspirants Gokulam Kerala FC in the 2023-24 I-League on Sunday.

Churchill Brothers’s visit to the EMS Stadium didn’t prove entirely fruitless as it managed to fetch them a point after a 1-1 draw with title aspirants Gokulam Kerala FC in the 2023-24 I-League on Sunday.

The split of points between the two teams could leave Sreenidi Deccan FC and Mohammedan Sporting happy, albeit temporarily. Both are now having 16 points each and occupying the number one and two positions, respectively. If two-time champions Gokulam were hoping to bridge the gap on home turf, it didn’t happen that way. Their takeaway from the last two matches is one point; they returned from the Shillong Lajong tie empty-handed. Now Gokulam have 11 points from six matches. Churchill have collected their eighth point after playing six matches.

A group of Gokulam Kerala fans thronged the stands with drums, which they played relentlessly from the word go. The excitement in the gallery, however, hardly had any influence on the pitch as the match drifted into a rather humdrum affair within a few minutes of the start. Even the drummers looked tired midway through the first half.

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The match finally livened up in the 36th minute when Churchill Brothers took the lead. Uruguayan Martin Chaves’s free kick from around 35 yards on the left was on target and had a reasonable punch behind it, but Gokulam goalkeeper Devansh Dabas made a mess of things as he fumbled and faltered to collect. As the ball fell free, lurking nearby was Richard Costa, who managed to push the ball over the goalline.

As the Churchill players celebrated, there was double trouble for Gokulam on the other end. While trying to make a diving collection of the Chavez free kick, Dabas not only failed in his attempt but also got himself injured in the process. After initial treatment, the ambulance had to be called in and Dabas was taken for further check-ups. Reserve custodian Avilash Paul was called in for duty. The referee ordered nine minutes of add-on time.

The equaliser came in the 72nd minute off a penalty. As Gokulam mounted pressure in the second half, the chinks in the Churchill defence became increasingly clear. One such Gokulam attack ended with a handball by a Churchill defender and Spanish forward Alex Sanchez slammed in confidently from the spot to cancel Churchill’s lead.

The match witnessed too many infringements committed by both sides, which not only disturbed the flow of the game but also reduced the match to a scrappy affair. The referee had his plate full and had a tough time managing the tempers of the players.

(IANS)

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