Bhubaneswar, Odisha: After two losses on the trot, Churchill Brothers picked up a win in their clash against the Indian Arrows in the first match of the 12th Hero I-League at the Kalinga Stadium complex in Bhubaneswar on Sunday (December 30, 2018). A goal from Willis Plaza was enough to hand the Goan side the three points while the Arrows suffered their first loss in three games.
It was the away side that started off the first half on a stronger note, with the league’s top scorer Plaza testing the gloves of Prabhsukhan Gill in the 4th minute. Receiving the ball at the edge of the box, the Trinidadian shimmied to his left and fired in a powerful effort that produced a fantastic diving save from the Arrows goalie.
Floyd Pinto’s side, that came into the match off the back of four points in two games and two clean sheets, then created the next chance of the match. Boris Singh, playing as a winger, drove past his marker and fizzed in a cross, which was thwarted by Rowlinson Rodrigues.
The match turned into a tactical tussle in the middle of the park as both sides vied for possession and control over the game. The Arrows looked to play their quick-passing, high-tempo style while Churchill aimed to slow down the pace of the encounter. Rahim Ali and Amarjit Singh had an effort each from long range but the young side failed to test the opposition keeper.
However, just when it appeared that the first half would end goalless, the away side scored the opening goal through their main marksman Plaza in the 40th minute. A long ball was played into the Arrows’ box and centre-back Jitendra Singh mistimed his clearance, which fell kindly to Plaza and he made no mistake in slotting the ball home.
The former East Bengal man did not take to the pitch in the second half due to an injury concern and was replaced by compatriot Anthony Wolfe. With the action restarting, the Arrows upped their urgency as they looked for the equaliser.
Rahim Ali looked like a threat throughout the course of the encounter but the Churchill defence remained rock solid. Wolfe, in the 54th minute, had a good chance to extend his side’s lead after he beat Jitendra and Asish Rai down the left but Gill was alert to the danger and took the ball off the attacker’s feet.
The Arrows had their chance to level the scores in the 74th minute as Boris’ cross caused chaos in the Churchill defence. The loose ball fell to Anwar Ali inside the penalty area but his effort went just over the bar.
Aniket Jadhav and Sanjeev Stalin came on for the Arrows they continued to hunt for their first goal of the match. Five minutes were added on by the referee and despite multiple waves of pressure by the young boys in blue, the Goan side held firm and maintained a clean sheet to pick up all three points.