Gokulam Kerala managed to end the four-game winning streak of TRAU, but wouldn’t be too pleased with the result. The Manipur team, however, wouldn’t be complaining about the 1-1 draw in its I-League match at the Corporation Stadium on Sunday.
TRAU’s technical director L. Nandakumar Singh had, on the eve of the match, conceded that he would be happy with one point. His players did not let him down, though their coach Dimitris Dimitriou had been sacked last week after leading the side to its fourth successive win.
TRAU knew that a fifth win on the trot would not be easy as Gokulam is one of the strongest sides and enjoys tremendous support at home.
A crowd of more than 10,000 came to cheer Gokulam, which made its intentions clear right from kick-off. Captain Marcus Joseph and Henry Kisekka put the TRAU defence under constant pressure and they were well supported by Nathaniel Garcia.
It looked as if it was only a matter of time before the host took the lead. And it did, in the 22nd minute, but with some help from the visitor.
TRAU paid the price for failing to clear Joseph’s short corner out of danger. The ball came back to the Gokulam skipper, whose shot at goal wasn’t gathered cleanly by goalkeeper Mithun Samantha. Kisekka charged in and slotted the ball home.
The second half also began with Gokulam going on the offensive, creating a couple of good scoring chances. But it was TRAU which found the target, the equaliser coming almost against the run of play.
A superb long ball from Laishram Singh found Joseph Olaleye, who came in for Ngangbam Singh after the interval, on the right-wing. The Nigerian dribbled past Wungngayam Muirang and released a precise cross into the box. After Princewill Emeka failed twice in quick succession, Krishnananda Singh slammed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-1.
Gokulam tried hard to hit back , but it could not convert any of the several opportunities that came its way.
Churchill thrash Neroca 4-1
Comeback man Willis Plaza lived up to his reputation with a goal and two assists as Churchill Brothers notched up a 4-1 win over Neroca FC on Sunday.
Ponif Vaz (5th), Willis Plaza (35th), Vinil Poojary (65th) and Israil Gurung (90+1st) scored for Churchill Brothers, while Philip Tettey (26th) struck once for Neroca FC.
Churchill Brothers now has 13 points from eight games and is placed fifth on the points table.
Neroca saw the return of Singam Subhash Singh -- its hero from the first season in the league, who made a move in the January transfer window from Real Kashmir FC.
The first half started with high-intensity action as the home team drew first blood from a corner in the 5th minute. The corner found an unmarked Ponif Vaz in front of the goal who smashed it home for his team to give them an early lead.
It was very hard to choose between both the teams as they were going toe-to-toe with little to separate them in terms of possession.
Neroca’s efforts finally paid off to get an equaliser when the ball fell to forward Philip Tettey, who dribbled past one defender and then James Kithan in the Churchill goal to score a praiseworthy goal with 26 minutes on the clock.
With a goal apiece, Churchill was eager to go in the lead and resorted to a high-pressing game and it worked to its advantage. Another goal came in before half-time, Plaza rising to the occasion this time, before Poojary and Gurung finished things off in style for the Red Machines.
James Kithan from Churchill Brothers FC Goa was awarded the Hero of the Match for his amazing performance in front of the goal
At Kozhikode: Gokulam Kerala 1 (Herny Kisekka 22) drew with TRAU 1 (Krishnananda Singh 52).
At Margao: Churchill Brothers 4 (Ponif Vaz 5, Willis Plaza 35, Vinil Poojary 65, Israil Gurung 90+1) bt Neroca FC 1 (Philip Tettey 26).
With inputs from PTI
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