Salgaocar SC 1 (Chidi Edeh — 71st) d/w Churchill Brothers 1 (ND Opara — 49th)
MARGAON: Salgaocar Sports Club and Churchill Brothers were locked 1-1 in a seventh round I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Thursday. ND Opara drew first blood for Churchill in the 49th minute only for Chidi Edeh to pull it back for Salgaocar in the 71st minute.
Churchill now move to 3rd spot with 14 points from 7 matches while Salgaocar move to 8 points from 7 matches.
Both the teams started on a fast track mode and seemed eager to draw first blood. There was plenty of goal-mouth action but the final touch was missing at either end.
Salgaocar, in particular, had more attempts on goal in the first session and had it not been for an alert Churchill goalkeeper Felix D’Souza, the defending champions would have been at least two goals ahead. Felix was at his best early in the game when he dived full-length to block Edeh Chidi’s header. A few minutes later, Chidi again found himself with some space, but Felix proved to be equal to the task again.
And much to Salgaocar’s agony, even when Felix was soundly beaten by Chidi’s rasping drive, Salgaocar had no luck: the goalpost stood in between.
Churchill also had their fair share of chances. Most of the chances were being created by the crafty Lalrindika Ralte. The young left-footed midfielder, at first tested the rival goalkeeper with a long ranger that sailed inches past the post. A couple of shots also went close but the closest Churchill got to the Salgaocar goal in the first session was when ND Opara mistimed his header with only the goalkeeper to beat and Henri Antchouet should have done better than an extremely weak left footer.
Churchill Brothers surged ahead in the 49th minute when ND Opara collected a ball from midfielder Lenny Rodrigues just outside the danger zone and unleashed a fierce shot that crashed into the top corner of the net.
Salgaocar took the setback in their stride and true to form did not have to wait long for the equaliser. Chidi, easily the most dangerous player on the field, brought Salgaocar level in the 71st minute when he headed home a cross from Rocus Lamare.
Churchill had two chances to score the match winner towards the fag end but substitute Bineesh Balan’s volley was tipped to safety by goalkeeper Karanjit Singh and then another substitute, Jerry Zirsanga, aimed at the sky from close range.