I-League 2021: Churchill Brothers' top-of-the-table clash with Real Kashmir ends in stalemate; Mohammedan SC win
The top of the table clash between Churchill and Real Kashmir was certainly embedded with fireworks right from kick-off as neither team held back in the opening minutes of the match.
Kolkata: Table-toppers Churchill Brothers were held to their third successive draw in the Hero I-League 2020-21 after the Red Machines were stopped in their tracks by Real Kashmir FC in a goalless draw on Monday.
This was the first-ever official football game played at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan.
The top of the table clash was certainly embedded with fireworks right from kick-off as neither team held back in the opening minutes of the match.
Real Kashmir FC started strong and their direct, high-pressing style of play early on overwhelmed the Churchill Brothers' defence. Lukman Adefemi had an opportunity in the fourth minute to head the ball towards goal but could not test the opposition custodian.
Churchill Brothers, playing second best to Real Kashmir for the first ten minutes, had their moments later and could have possibly gone in front, much against the run of play in the 12th minute.
A delightful counter-attack by the Red Machines saw Hafis Mohammadali run straight onto goal. With only the opposition custodian to beat, his shot earned a heroic save from Mithun Samanta as Real Kashmir survived the scare.
The chance seemed to boost the Red Machines' confidence as the Fernando Varela-coached side used the flanks to conduct their attacks. In the 19th minute, Shubert Periera tried his luck from distance but could only shoot over the bar. Although Real Kashmir had the majority of possession, the Snow Leopards lacked creativity up front and long balls in the box were easily cleared by the Red Machines' defence line.
In the 32d minute, Shilton Paul was called into action when Farhan Ganai's swirling shot on the turn, from distance, was kept out by him after Real Kashmir committed bodies in attack courtesy of a long Haroon Amiri throw-in.
Churchill Brothers tried to take the lead through Hafis once again in the 41st minute, but this time as well the forward could not find the net and shot over the bar. He was found by Luka Majcen inside the box after the Slovenian had held on to a long ball.
With neither team able to better the other, the half-time scoreline read 0-0.
Real Kashmir FC came on spurred in the second half and had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 48th minute. Haroon Amiri's classic long throw-in was flicked on by Danish Farooq towards the far post. The ball fell to Dipanda Dicka, who hit the side-netting from close range.
In the 65th minute, Churchill Brothers survived another scare. Danish Farooq's perfect through-ball from the flank for Dipanda Dicka speared through the defence and the goalkeeper.
However, had Dicka timed his run better, he could have just tapped in to give the Snow Leopards the lead.
Although Real Kashmir had the better of Churchill Brothers in the second half and created clear goal-scoring opportunities, the Snow Leopards failed to convert their opportunities.
League top scorer Clayvin Zuniga came on in the 70th minute as a substitute and looked dangerous but could not test the rival keeper.
In the end, though, David Robertson's team had only themselves to blame for missing easy chances, as the full-time scoreline read 0-0.
Mohameddan SC edge past Gokulam Kerala
Mohammedan Sporting Club beat Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 riding on goals from John Chidi Uzodinma and Asheer Akhtar in an I-League encounter on Monday.
For Gokulam, Sharif Mukhammad's long-range strike late in the game only proved to be a consolation.
The Black Panthers broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Faisal Ali received the ball outside the opposition penalty box and released a through-ball for Chidi, whose powerful shot gave his team 1-0 lead.
— Hero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) February 8, 2021
The match was sealed in the 67th minute when Sebastian Thangmuansang stretched in order to intercept Gani Ahmmed Nigam's dipping cross from a left flank free-kick.
But, all he did was set the ball perfectly into the path of Asheer Akhtar, and the defender made no mistake in putting it past Ubaid in the Kerala goal.
Sharif pulled one back for Gokulam Kerala in the 76th minute when Dennis Antwi provided a cut-back for Sharif. The Afghan defender then unleashed a curling long-ranger to beat Roy and give his side a ray of hope.
With this win, Mohammedan Sporting now have 10 points from 6 games are placed third behind Churchill Brothers (13 points from 7 games) and Real Kashmir (10 points from 6 games). Real Kashmir are a notch ahead by virtue of better goal difference.
Gokulam are placed 8th with 7 points from six games.
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