I-League: Churchill topples Lajong 2-0 at home

Goals from Osagie Monday and P. M. Britto sealed the tie as Churchill Brothers defeated Shillong Lajong 2-0 on Friday.

Monday Osagie celebrates Churchill's opening goal against Shillong Lajong on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

Churchill Brothers secured its second straight win of the I-League season as it defeated Shillong Lajong 2-0 at the Tilak Maidan on Friday. Goals from Osagie Monday and P. M. Britto helped the Red Machines secure a win that took their season's tally to seven points.

Going into the game, Churchill introduced new foreign recruits Eldor Hussein and Dawda Ceesay into the team. Richard Costa and Y. D. Meetei were also given starts as coach Alfred Fernandes fielded an attacking line-up against Shillong.

It didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead thanks to a defensive error by Lajong goalkeeper Phurba Tempa Lachenpa in the eighth minute. Churchill centre-back Monday saw Tempa out of his line and launched a ball in his direction from his own half.Tempa could not get back in time and tried to palm the ball over the post but it simply hit his palm and went into the net.

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The Lajong defence was all over the place and Churchill's attackers were running riot as Kalu Ogba and Koffi Mechac came close. However, it suffered a setback when Kalu Ogba had to be taken off in the 22nd minute.

He was replaced by another new signing, Bektur Talgat, and the Kyrgyz Republic-based midfielder made an immediate impact. A string of passes saw Britto feed Bektur on the edge of the box who then laid it off for Wayne Vaz. He took a touch and drilled the ball goalwards but the keeper managed to tip it over the bar.

After being outplayed, Shillong started enjoying a few chances. Captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia took a free-kick from almost 30 yards out that didn’t go beyond the wall. They had a few half-chances, but a dominant Churchill took its 1-0 lead into half-time.

Lajong started the second half more purposefully and had an early chance when defender Laurence Doe tried to head in a corner towards the far post but missed by a few yards. The side had another opportunity in the 53rd minute when Lalrohlua launched a diagonal ball from the left to the unmarked Cliff Nongbri who took a touch and fired a shot across goal, only to see it go wide. But Lajong's best chance came when striker Saihou Jagne hit the post from eight yards out.

Lajong looked a completely different team in the second half and took the game to Churchill. It nearly equalised in the 71st minute when Lalrouhlua fired a thundering long-ranger from about 35 yards, which brushed goalkeeper James Kithan’s fist and hit the top left corner of the woodwork.

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Meanwhile, in its bid to find an equaliser, Lajong was exposed at the back and Churchill punished it when a quick counter-attack saw Britto cut in from the right and line up a left foot curler. Britto was allowed time and enough space on the ball as he unleashed a curler from outside the box that swerved past Tempa.

Churchill led 2-0 in the 76 minute and cruised to victory as it continues to turn around its season. Churchill has now closed the gap with Chennai City FC, which is above it by two points, having played as many matches more.


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