Churchill Brothers FC Goa and Aizawl FC were held to a deadly 1-1 draw in the 2022-23 League One Fifth Round match at Tilak Maidan in Vasco Da Gama, Goa on Friday.
An early first-half goal from Churchill Brothers’ Camus Stéphane Baye was canceled out for the first time by a Henri Kissika header in the second half as the two sides shared the spoils after an intriguing 90 minutes.
Churchill Brothers made their intention clear from the start when they took the match to Aizawl. Even before the guests were settled, the hosts took the lead in the third minute. Lalawmpuia Sailo won a free kick in an attacking position after being fouled by Aizawl’s Esok Muhr. Then the young Churchill midfielder sent a cross into the penalty area for Bonif Vaz at the far post, who crossed for Camu Stefan Bayi to tap into the open net and open the scoring.
Against the course of play, Churchill defender Momo Cisse lost the ball to Henry Kissika in the 23rd minute. The Ugandan sent the ball to Dawngliana, who hit a powerful shot on goal, but Churchill goalkeeper Albino Gomez was equal to it, saving the effort at the expense of a corner kick. The visitors began to pile pressure on the Churchill defence, as they conceded four corner kicks in succession but were unable to capitalize on set-pieces. Defender Emmanuel Makinde went the closest as he volleyed into the side netting into the fourth corner.
Near the half-hour mark, top scorer Camu Bayi deftly dribbled past two Aizawl defenders before slotting the ball in for captain Kingsley Fernandes. Fernandes then shone past his marker to create the necessary space for himself to shoot, however, his effort was well saved by Aizawl goalkeeper Vikram Singh.
In the 33rd minute, the Red Machines got another chance to double their lead as Lalkawpuimawia entered the six-yard box after a cross from Sailo. However, the Indian striker took too much time on the ball and Vikram closed him off before he could strike.
Kiska had a golden opportunity to equalize for Al-Shaab Club at the end of the first half. R Ramdinthara crossed the ball to Kisekka from the left but the Ugandan was unable to make the most of it as his header went over the bar.
The match resumed and both teams were determined to score the next goal. Ten minutes into the first half, Churchill had their first big chance of the half as they hit Aizawl on the counter. Kamo Bayi collected the ball in the opposition half and went one-on-one with the last defender Aizawl Makinde before taking a volley from the edge of the penalty area, which was then acrobaticly pushed by goalkeeper Vikram.
Team captain Kingsley Fernandes, along with Silo and Quan Gomez, constantly annoyed the Aizawl defense with their skill and movement while Raju Gaekwad was always present for Churchill to block the Aizawl attack.
It turned into a final affair as the match approached the final whistle. Aizawl advanced in search of the equalizer and finally succeeded in the 75th minute. A perfect left-footed cross from Zodingliana Ralte found Kisekka in the penalty area and the Ugandan striker made no mistake when he headed the ball cleanly into the net.
Churchill Brothers coach Antonio Rueda introduced players like Tana and Abdoulaye Sane in their bid to find a winner. It was all Churchill in the final minutes, however, as the visitors went the closest. During injury time, substitute Jeremy Laldenboya hit the rebound with the perfect touch before entering the penalty area, but Churchill goalkeeper Gomez made a left-foot save for the last kick of the match.
After the result, Churchill Brothers remained in 11th place with two points and two draws from their first five matches, while Aizawl rose to eighth place with five points from the same number of matches.
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