Kalyani, Jan 29 (IANS) An injury-struck Churchill Brothers were held to a 1-1 draw by Tiddim Road Union Athletic (TRAU) as they maintained their position at the top of the I-League with 11 points in 5 matches, at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium on Friday. Churchill were forced to take off their top goalscorer Clayvin Zuniga and goalkeeper Shibinraj, along with Richard Costa in the first half.
Clayvin Zuniga’s 18th minute header was cancelled by Bidyashagar Singh’s strike in the 23rd minute in a match where the Churchill were forced to use up all their substitutions for injured players. With this draw, TRAU remained second in the Hero I-League, still four points adrift of the Red Machines.
Churchill did most of the attacking in the early minutes of the match and nearly scored in second minute Clencio Pinto was found in the box by a Luka Majcen cross from the left flank. Pinto, however, missed his shot completely and the ball rolled out of play safely for a goal kick. Three minutes later Clayvin Zuniga, who is currently the top scorer in the league, had a sniff at goal when his header off a free-kick went inches over the bar.
Attacking momentum finally reaped dividends for Churchill Brothers on the 18th minute. A well-worked corner kick taken by Pinto found Zuniga in the box, who got past his marker and thumped the ball home to give Churchill the lead.
Despite Churchill’s momentum going forward, their lead was short-lived, in the 23rd minute Bidyashagar Singh equalised proceedings when he found the net from a tight angle at the far post after a Komron Tursunov cross was misjudged by the Churchill goalkeeper, who despite coming off his lines, failed to catch it. The ball fell to Bidyashagar, who tapped home with ease.
Churchill Brothers were dealt two heavy blows next. Zuniga was subbed off along with goalkeeper Shibinraj, owing to injuries on the 30th and 35th minutes, respectively. Kingslee Fernandes, who had come on to replace Zuniga, got into the thick of the action immediately and his shot, shortly after coming on, went past the opposition’s goal.
Churchill were forced to make another substitution owing to an injury in the 44th minute, when Richard Costa was replaced by Vinil Poojary. At half-time, there was nothing to separate the two teams as they went into the tunnel with the scores reading 1-1.
TRAU came on spurred in the second half trying to take advantage of a weakened Churchill Brothers. Komron Tursunov got into the box in 48th minute with just the goalkeeper to beat but just before the Tajik got his shot away, the referee blew his whistle for offside.
In the 56th minute, substitute Poojary took a shot from close range but missed the goal by inches as Churchill looked to take the upper hand of the proceedings.
In the 74th minute, TRAU had a golden opportunity to surge ahead in the lead when a through ball found Mayowa inside the box. The forward, with only the goalkeeper to beat, rattled the post with his effort as Churchill survived. Tursunov’s effort, shortly after, was parried away by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Shilton Paul.