I-League: Churchill Brothers holds Real Kashmir to 1-1 draw

With 29 points from 15 matches, the teams share the second spot in the points table.

Keen tussle: Action from the I-League contest in Vasco, Goa, on Thursday. Photo: AIFF Media

Real Kashmir FC played out a 1-1 draw with Churchill Brothers of Goa in an I-League contest here on Thursday.

The draw extended Real Kashmir’s unbeaten run to 11 matches. It remains in contention for the title. Currently, it shares the second spot with Churchill Brothers; they both have 29 points from 15 matches. Chennai City FC leads the points table with 30 points from 14 matches.

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A total of 20 matches will be played by each team.

Farhan Ganie gave Real Kashmir the lead in the 55th minute, but Willis Plaza, the league’s top-scorer with 16 goals, equalised for Churchill in the 70th minute. The first-leg contest between the two teams had also ended in a draw (0-0). It was played in Srinagar in November, 2018.

Churchill had more of the ball possession and the visitor clearly missed the physical presence of suspended Ivorian striker Gnohre Krizo, who had scored Real Kashmir’s lone goal in the 1-0 win over Chennai City FC earlier in the week.

Krizo had picked up his second yellow card in that contest.

Churchill’s Romanian coach Petre Gigiu made three changes to his starting line-up, playing Khalid Aucho, Richard Costa and Wayne Vaz in place of Israil Gurung, Nickson Castanha and Nenad Novakovic. Real Kashmir’s coach David Robertson made just one change, replacing the suspended Krizo with Ritwik Kumar Das.

Willis Plaza was the Player of the Match. Photo: AIFF Media

 

After a scrappy 20 minutes, David’s son Mason Robertson had the first clear look at goal when Farhan Ganie found him in an advantageous position inside the box with a lovely long ball floated across from just inside the Churchill half. But Mason’s volley was weak and lacked placement; it was collected comfortably by James Kithan at the Churchill goal.

Then, in the 39th minute, Mason squared to Ritwik, who unleashed a shot from just outside the Churchill box, but Kithan again had it under control.

Resolute defence

The home side did make a couple of forays into their rivals’ box, most of them inspired by their mercurial left-footed captain Dawda Cessay, but Real Kashmir's defence stood resolute.

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Plaza did not even get one clear sight at goal as the teams went into half-time goalless.

Churchill seemed to have shed its cautious approach at the beginning of the second half and pressed hard. But, it was Real Kashmir which took the lead through Farhan in the 55th minute, when his long-range grounder from outside the Churchill box on the second attempt, beat a maze of legs before finding the back the net.

The home team was jolted by the goal but Plaza got it back in the 69th minute with his 16th strike of the league. Dawda Cessay’s corner was initially cleared by the Real Kashmir defence, but only till substitute Nicholas Fernandes found Plaza inside the box from the left flank with a fine cross.

The Trinidadian Plaza, who had got away from his marker, trapped and controlled well, before firing in a left-footer past Bilal in the Real Kashmir goal.

Plaza was adjudged Player of the Match.