I-League: Churchill continues fine form with 1-0 win over Aizawl

Koffi Mechac 21st-minute strike was enough for the Red Machines to register its fifth win in its last six games.

Koffi Mechac’s strike in the 21st minute of the game was enough for the Red Machines to register their first clean sheet of the season and the fifth win in their last six games.   -  Twitter

Churchill Brothers continued its resurgence in the 2017-18 Hero I-League as it trumped defending champion Aizawl FC by a solitary goal at the Tilak Maidan Ground in Vasco on Tuesday.

Koffi Mechac’s 21st-minute strike was enough for the Red Machines to register its fifth win in its last six games. Alfred Fernandes did not disturb his winning combination too much and only made a solitary change from the squad that won against Minerva Punjab. Richard Costa made way for Suraj Singh as the defender was played in a midfield role.

Paulo Menezes was visibly shaken after going three weeks without a win as he made four alterations with skipper Alfred Jaryan returning from suspension.

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The game had a lively start as Nicholas Fernandes missed putting the ball into the far side of the net with his first-time header from a cross provided by Harshad Naik.

Aizawl FC had a goal disallowed as early as in the fifth minute. Andrei Ionescu’s flag-kick was received by Leonce Dodoz, who headed across to Masih Saighani. The flag, however, was already raised.

The host, against the run of play, found the opener as Nicholas Fernandes beat his marker Laldinliana on the left channel to send a square pass for Koffi Mechac, who was left unmarked inside the box. The Ivorian just had to tap the ball in as Avilash Paul dived the other way.

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Shoulders dropped immediately and the Aizawl players hardly found any rhythm and consistency in the final third. Most of the shots were taken out of haste.

It was more of the same in the second half. Churchill had a golden opportunity to double the lead in the 49th minute. Denechandram Meitei’s long throw-in was flicked off brilliantly by Mechac towards Dawda Ceesay, whose misjudgment cost him a potential goal as he decided to shoot on the volley instead of stopping it and then attempting a shot.

None of the sides came close to scoring as Churchill failed to take advantage of the numerical advantage in the dying embers of the match.

The Goan side increased its tally to sixteen points as it went level with the title-holder, but stayed a spot beneath it, owing to an inferior goal difference. It next faces the Indian Arrows as Aizawl FC, who is winless in its last five domestic games, travel to face NEROCA FC on Saturday.

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