Imphal, Manipur: Neroca FC defeated Goan side Churchill Brothers FC Goa 2-1 thanks to two brilliant headers from Hero of the Match Katsumi Yusa in the first and the 87th minute of the match to end Churchill’s unbeaten run in the Hero I-League.
With this win, Neroca FC are now placed second on the points table with 14 points, three points shy of table toppers Chennai City FC.
Hosts Neroca FC began in orange while vistors Churchill Brothers FC Goa were in their away sky blue kit. Neroca FC made no mistake in showing their intentions right from the kickoff, starting on an attack.
A loosely cleared from Churchill Brothers’ Mohanraj from inside the box landed straight into the legs of Aryn Williams who then delivered a beautiful cross back into the box which was well met with a beautiful diving header by Katsumi to guide the ball back into the Churchill Brothers FC Goa nets putting the hosts onto a lead with just 13 seconds on the clock. With this, Katsumi now has the record of the fastest goal of the I-League, beating James Moga, who had netted on 14 seconds for Pune FC against United Sikkim in 2012-13.
This goal changed the game right from the first minute as Neroca FC went on an attacking spree with the hope to double their lead but unfortunately couldn’t breach the defence line of the visitors thereafter. Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, played a cautious game thereafter, having conceded way too early, but slowly started coming back to their attacking ways in the latter half of the first 45 minutes.
Neroca FC, who were attacking in quick successions, did trouble the Churchill defence but somehow couldn’t manage to get the better of them. Churchill who were, however, playing with a marginal advantage of higher ball possession went on with their attacks in intervals.
Churchill finally managed to restore parity when a beautiful free kick from Dawda Ceesay was well headed into the net by Kahlid Aucho in the 37th minute. The game thereafter was a mixed bag of attacks from both ends but neither of the teams managed to extend their lead.
The second half began with Neroca FC trying to get the lead but a defensively strong Churchill Brothers FC Goa denied them any clear chance to capitalise. Neroca FC, however, came close enough to extend their lead but could not when Churchill Brothers Goal Keeper James Keethan made an outstanding save off a shot from Felix Chidi in the 61st minute.
Neroca FC did not stop, but were unsuccessful in finding the back of the net. It was only in the 87th minute when Katsumi Yusa completed his brace FC through a header that came off from an inch-perfect cross from Aryn Williams, giving the hosts a critical 2-1 lead which eventually guided them t secure all three points at home.