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I-League: Churchill draws against leaders Mohammedan, Namdhari beats TRAU

Namdhari FC got back to winning ways after defeating TRAU FC while Churchill Brothers and Mohammedan Sporting played out a goalless draw.

I-League: Churchill draws against leaders Mohammedan, Namdhari beats TRAU

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 18 Dec 2023 4:59 AM GMT

Namdhari FC returned to winning ways after defeating TRAU FC 2-1 while Churchill Brothers FC Goa played a draw against Mohammedan Sporting Club at the Tilak Maidan on Sunday.

The victory was Namdhari’s second in the competition and it helped the side move out of the bottom two spots in the points table. They are now 11th in the standings with eight points from 10 matches. TRAU remains pinned at the bottom spot with four points from 10 matches.

The match was tense from the start, with both teams showing signs of nervousness through defensive mistakes. One of the first notable errors came from Sunil Benchamin in the 10th minute. While attempting to intercept a pass from Manvir Singh inside the penalty box, Benchamin nearly caused an own goal. His clearance attempt struck the woodwork and fortunately went out, sparing his team early blushes.

Namdhari finally seized the lead in the 36th minute through a well-executed set-piece. Imanol Arana Sadaba floated in a long free-kick into the TRAU penalty box and Saurabh Bhanwala used his height to good effect to head home the match’s first goal. Sardar, though, was in a position to save the goal potentially. The ball had bounced before reaching Sardar, and although he managed to get a hand to it, he couldn’t prevent it from crossing the goal line.

It wasn’t only Sardar who was guilty of vulnerable goalkeeping. His opposition counterpart Nishan Singh too faltered five minutes later. The incident unfolded when Bidyananda Singh of TRAU set L Deepak Singh into motion with a well-weighted long ball along the right wing.

Deepak Singh skillfully evaded his marker, Manbir Singh, and whipped a sharp cross into the box. The cross was within reach for goalkeeper Nishan Singh to collect comfortably. However, he mistimed his jump, only managing to parry the ball towards the far post instead of securing it.

This mistake proved costly as Danish Aribam, left unmarked at the far post, capitalised on the opportunity and headed the ball into the net for the equaliser.

Namdhari came out with more determination after the break and created a chance in the 50th minute. However, Jaskaran’s powerful shot was saved by Sardar.

The winning goal for Namdhari came in the 76th minute, again originating from a set-piece orchestrated by Imanol Arana Sadaba. The midfielder delivered a well-placed corner from the left and Manvir Singh met the ball impeccably, powering a header from the first post into the net.

Meanwhile, the Churchill Brothers snatched one point against leaders Mohammedan.

In a sedate first half, the home side dominated the opening stages of the game before Mohammedan’s midfield duo of Alexis Gomez and Mirjalol Kasimov started exerting more the home sidearmer’s frequent forays to the edge of the box, where he would cut in keep the Churchill defence guessing for much of the first half.

The closest either team came to breaking the deadlock was midway through the half when Gomez cut in from the left, before unleashing a long-range attempt at the Churchill goal.

But veteran goalkeeper Subashish Roy Chowdhury tipped the ball over. Neither side was able to create a clear opportunity in the first half.

The pattern of play continued well into the second half with Mohammedan dominating the possession but doing little with it in the final third. Churchill was feeding mostly on scraps and soon enough getting into scraps too, the game increasingly physical and altercations quick and constant. In the 56th minute, Gomez’s delivery fell to Lalremsanga on the right side of the box and while the winger did well to wrap his foot around the volley, it was nowhere near the target.

Churchill ramped up their play in the final 15 minutes of the game and were the ones who came closest to breaking the deadlock. In the 76th, Emiliano Torre latched on to a long through ball, and despite having the space and time slashed his shot wide.

The best opportunity of the game though fell to Louis Ogana, who gathered Martin Chaves’ pass inside the box and shot into the corner of goal, the ball looking destined to go in. As it was, Padam Chettri pushed it wide to save Mohammedan a point.

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