Churchill pip NEROCA 1-0, regain I-League top spot

KOLKATA, Feb 24: Churchill Brothers regained the top spot on the I-League table after they beat NEROCA FC 1-0 at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan here on Wednesday.
Clayvin Zuniga’s 16th-minute strike was enough to give Fernando Varela’s side all three points in a game full of chances. With the win, the Red Machines have also secured themselves a top-six spot in the first phase of the I-League.
Churchill Brothers made two changes after their victory over Chennai City FC. Varela brought in goalkeeper Shibinraj Kunniyil and Vikas for Shilton Paul and Jovel Martins respectively.
NEROCA coach Gift Raikhan made a single change from their win over Sudeva Delhi, bringing in Prakash Budhathoki for Khaiminthang Lhungdim.
Churchill Brothers created two chances within the first five minutes of the game. However, Luka Majcen was unable to reach Vinil Poojary’s deflected cross in the second minute, followed by Clayvin Zuniga’s long-range attempt, which was skied in the fourth minute.
NEROCA got a great chance in the seventh minute when Judah Garcia pounced on Bishorjit’s long kick. With only the keeper to beat, the Trinidadian blasted his shot high over the target.
The game turned into fast end-to-end action over the next few minutes and the opening goal came in the 16th minute.
Zuniga started the move in midfield and found Kingslee Fernandes, who lifted a perfect chipped return pass for him on the run.
The Honduran then volleyed it beyond Bishorjit Singh’s reach.
The Red Machines dominated the first half completely, continuously creating chances.
At the other end, NEROCA strung up a few chances.
Shibinraj was finally forced into action when he came off his line to collect Singam Subhash’s cross in the 55th minute.
NEROCA pushed harder for the equaliser and came close again when Subash’s cross into the area was cleared by Hamza Kheir before Judah Garcia could pounce on it.
Churchill realised they needed another goal to safeguard the result, and kept pushing for the second. However, they had to be satisfied with just the one goal.
TRAU win
Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC (TRAU) trounced Indian Arrows 5-1 in their I-League encounter on Wednesday. Two goals from Bidyashagar Singh, one each from Mayosing Khongreiwa, Komron Tursunov, Chanso Horam, saw the Imphal base team dominate the fixture. (PTI)

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