I-League: Arjun Jayaraj gives Gokulam share of spoils against Churchill

Arjun Jayaraj scored in the 36th minute to cancel out Willis Plaza's fifth-minute strike and give Gokulam Kerala a share of the spoils against Churchill Brothers.

Arjun Jayaraj slots the ball past James Kithan to earn a point for Gokulam Kerala.   -  K. Ragesh

Bino George will have to wait for his revenge. The Gokulam Kerala coach was desperate for a win against Churchill Brothers after his team’s 2-3 loss in last year’s I-League.

But, the 1-1 draw at the Corporation Stadium on Friday is something he could still be proud of. After all, Churchill Brothers came here in great form and is only one of the two unbeaten sides in the competition.

It was a fair result, too, in the end. Both the teams played attacking football and there was plenty of action right from the beginning. And there was a goal too, shortly after the kick-off. Not surprisingly, the scorer was Willis Plaza, Churchill’s Trinidadian import, who has netted more goals than anybody else in the league. This was his sixth goal.

It all began with a long goal-kick taken by James Kithan deep into the host’s half. It found the head of Gokulam’s Mohammed Rashid, who could not head it out of danger. The ball was won by Richard Costa, who headed it down to set up Plaza. The in-form striker went past the defenders of Gokulam and placed the ball beautifully past the keeper K. Shibinraj.

But, the home side equalised nine minutes before the interval. As in the case of Churchill, the ’keeper had a hand in Gokulam's goal too.

Shibijnraj first caught the long throw in from N. Mohanraj and threw it fast and long to Christian Sabah, who paced his run down the left flank splendidly. The Ghanaian, who impressed his debut, released an excellent ball into the box for Arjun Jayaraj, who brilliantly angled his strike to the far corner of the net, past the ‘keeper.

It was another superb effort by Arjun, who has been one of the key men for his team. He was awarded the man of the match.

The draw means Churchill and Gokulam have retained their second and third positions, respectively, behind leader Chennai City.

As for Bino’s revenge, he will have another opportunity when the two teams face in the second leg at Vasco da Gama.

The result: Gokulam Kerala (Arjun Jayaraj 36') 1 drew with Churchill Brothers 1 (Willis Plaza 5); Man-of-the-Match: Arjun Jayaraj

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