I-League: Churchill Brothers snatches late draw against Gokulam

Churchill moved to ninth position with 17 points from 16 matches and is four points off safety.

Henry Kisekka

Henry Kisekka scored his third goal in four matches. (file image)   -  AIFF media

Debutant Onyeama Frincis’ stoppage time goal helped Churchill Brothers hold Gokulam Kerala FC to a 1-1 draw in their I-League match at Vasco on Saturday.

After a barren first half, Gokulam scored through Henry Kisekka in the 72nd minute. But Churchill, who failed to trouble the rival defence for most part of the match, restored parity in the stoppage time through Frincis (90+3).

The draw kept Churchill above the relegation zone as it now has 17 points from 16 matches and moved to eight place above Chennai City. Gokulam Kerala takes its tally to 20 points from 16 matches.

In-form Gokulam Kerala looked the better of the two sides in the first half as it controlled the midfield and posed a constant threat to the home side.

Churchill lacked urgency in its attack and received a set back midway in the first half when its captain Osagie Monday got injured and was replaced by Pawan Kumar. But its defence did well to deny Henry Kisekka, who posed a constant threat whenever he received the ball inside the box.

After suffering three successive defeats, Churchill replaced two foreigner strikers, bringing in Onyeama Frincis Okechukwu and Jeancy Zunapio Siyo in place of Kalu Ogba and Mechac Koffi to change its fortunes but it failed to create any impact upfront. The only time it came close to scoring was in the 10th minute when Frincis sent a low cross into the box but Jeancy Zunapiao Siyo was late to connect it.

Gokulam continued to dominate after the break also as it made inroads with steady flow of passes. Churchill committed a lot of mispasses that helped the visitor in its attack.

Arjun Jayaraj nearly succeeded in finding the net in the 58th minute when he tried to chip the ball over the onrushing keeper Bilal Khan. Eventually, the ball hit the keeper’s face and rebounded into play.

Henry Kisekka finally broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute when he ran down to the left channel, dodged past a couple of rival defenders and found the net with a deft placement.

Arjun Jayaraj could have increased the lead few minutes later when his header hit the cross bar off a cross from the right by Thaivalappil Irshad.

Churchill, who made an all-out effort in the dying minutes, managed to restore parity in the stoppage time when debutant Onyeama Frincis made a solo run inside the box before slotting the ball into the net.

Earlier in the day, Chennai City received a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of East Bengal.

RESULT:

Churchill Brothers 1 (Francis Okechukwu 90+2')  Gokulam Kerala 1 (Henry Kisekka 72')