GANGTOK: Third-placed Churchill Brothers played a goalless draw against United Sikkim in Paljor Stadium in Gangtok on Sunday.
Heroics from United Sikkim goalkeeper Monotosh Ghosh denied the full 3 points to Churchill Brothers. Ghosh, adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ made several outstanding saves during the match especially against Akram Moghrabi on two occasions in the second half.
In the first attempt, Akram neatly chested a long ball from the right flank but Monotosh was quick to close him down and blocked his shot from close range. Monotosh was even more agile in the second time when he dived low to his left to keep out Akram’s header.
Between these two saves, Henri A Rebieno also came close to break down the United Sikkim defence. He drifted past two United Sikkim defenders in the box but was guilty of delayed in taking his shot allowing the defenders to put their bodies against the goal bound ball.
An even simpler chance had come along Churchill Brothers way in the first half which was otherwise a dull affair. Monotosh abandoned his goal to punch out a cross but the ball landed up nicely for Bikramjit Singh outside the box but he could not direct his volley into the empty
United Sikkim, reeling under a much improved performance from Churchill Brothers in the second half, fell back to defend in numbers while making the occasional counterattacks. For the last 15 minutes, its two key central defenders captain Anwar Ali and Sandesh Jhingan bravely tolerated their injuries to withstand the Goan onslaught.
In injury time, United Sikkim nearly delivered a knockout punch but its Nigerian striker Nurudeen Salau could not beat Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Sandip Nandy with his header from close range.
United Sikkim interim coach Bhaichung Bhutia was happy to get one valuable point from a tough team. "The point gives some respite to us and takes United Sikkim a little further from relegation zone. We did not play well today but a point is a point. It was an outstanding performance from our goalkeeper and defenders,"
His rival compatriot Mariano Dais, however, was not pleased. "We missed the chance to move up in the table but one point is better than nothing. It is always difficult to play an away game. We played well in the second half but United Sikkim goalkeeper made several crucial saves", he said.
Churchill move to 19 points from 9 matches while USFC are on 7 points from 9 matches.