Churchill Brothers SC earned their sixth win of the season and moved
within a point of the I-League leaders Dempo SC as they came back from a goal down to defeat Chirag United Kerala 2-1 in the ninth round at the University Stadium, Trivandrum.
Anil Kumar handed the lead for the home side in the 26th minute, but the Goan’s came back into the game at the stroke of half time through Ndubisi Opara. But, the hero of the game was Mohammed Rafi who scored his first goal and the winner for his team after a nine month injury lay off.
Churchill’s first chance came in the 18th minute as Lalrindika Ralte tested goalkeeper Sharath K, who fumbled the ball, but the Chirag defense dealt with the danger. A couple of minute’s later, Sharath displayed a moment of brilliance as he advanced and latched on to a ball from the legs of Gabonese forward Henri Antchouet.
Anil Kumar scored in the 26th minute to give Chirag the lead, his second goal in successive matches for the Kerala side. Asif played a curling free kick into the Churchill area, which Anil Kumar had no difficulties to rise above Churchill defense and head the ball past Felix D’Souza.
Chirag went on to dominate the game even after taking the lead, but the turning point of the game came at the 45th minute as Henri Antchouet played a through ball to his striking partner Ndubuisi Opara, who kept his composure and finished the ball battling Charles Dzisah.
It was the away team that was the superior side in the second half. Manuel Gomes brought in Antun Kovacic and Mohammed Rafi at the half time, which was decisive in the result of the day. The Australian defender created havoc in the box during the set plays, and Rafi came up with the winner in the 74th minute.
The win takes Churchill Brothers’ point tally to twenty points from nine matches, one point behind their neighbors Dempo SC, who plays East Bengal on Thursday. Chirag are still in the twelfth spot with five points and are in danger of relegation if they cannot come up with some points in the coming fixture. They will next host Prayag United SC on Saturday.