The Goan players in Churchill Brothers FC are on a song and it helped them silence Real Kashmir FC 2-1 and climb to the third spot of the I-League at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday. The chorus may not have been loud but it was enough to deafen Real Kashmir’s chances of a comeback.
Aware that a win would take them to the third position, Churchill Brothers started with Glan Martins and Quan Gomes marshalling the midfield and the duo played parallel to each other – falling back and forward as the game demanded – and controlling the game for a major part of seventy minutes.
Real Kashmir fielded former Salgaocar FC playmaker Brian Mascarnehas and he was the first to take a crack at goal in the fifth minute which was cleanly collected by Churchill Brothers U-22 goalkeeper Sukhadev Patil.
Quan released a long ball into the Real Kashmir penalty area, in a bid to find his colleague, only for the ball to be handled and the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Willis Plaza stepped up to guide the Kashmir U-22 keeper Phurba Lachenpa in the wrong direction and the ball in the right. The winners were up by a goal in the tenth minute.
The early goal enthused the Churchill Brothers lads and Glan and Quan not only helped the team in keeping possession but constantly changed the tempo leaving the Snow Leopards in a sweat with little idea to fox the hosts.
Churchill Brothers increased the lead in the 20th minute through Lalkhawpuimawia (Mapuia) who showed his finishing capabilities after he took possession of a ball – that Willis was trying to control to shoot in – and let go a blinder that had the Real Kashmir goalkeeper, defence and the spectators in awe.
The early onslaught left Kashmir on real panic mode and coach David Robertson replaced defender Dalraj Singh with Kallum Michael and the substitution did change the team’s approach of the game, though not drastically.
After Brian’s try in the early stages of the game, Kallums effort in the 40th minute was the other attempt of Real Kashmir FC in the first half. Kallums try, however, sailed over the horizontal.
With Willis in the starting eleven, Churchill Brothers’ game largely flowed through the centre with the flanks rarely being used and David Ceesay and Socreates Pedro having little to do – the onus being enjoyed by Quan and Glan specifically.
Churchill Brothers FC started the second session with a two goal cushion and though both teams fielded U-22 goalkeepers, the duo had not much to do with the defenders of both teams throwing themselves at any shot targetted at goal.
The winners had a gilt attempt to increase their margin in the 52nd minute of the second session when Willis spontaneously played Mapuia through for the latter having the mortification of seeing the rival keeper punch away his attempt – in a one to one situation- for an abortive corner.
Churchill Brothers coach Bernardo Tavares substituted Glan in the 74th minute – the player has been playing with an ankle injury suffered in the match against East Bengal- and the change did give Real Kashmir a better look at the Churchill FC citadel with the visitors slowly showing purposeful intent in taking the ball forward.
However, it was Mapuia who had an opportunity in the 80th minute after Plaza had put him through on goal but he couldn’t ride on Bazie Armand’s challenge and went down. The opportunity rolled towards Plaza with the goal gaping, but his try was blocked. Mapuia played with more purpose in comparison to his previous match.
Real Kashmir hit back two minutes later and Robin Singh , whose contribution was insignificant through the evening , headed in the consolation goal after he found himself unmarked to intercept Sena Ralte’s cross.
The goal did add more spring on the Real Kashmir player’s feet but the hosts kept their rearguard intact and it was during this period that the absence of Glan was felt the most. Real Kashmir had two clear chances in the last five minutes and in one goalkeeper Shivaji came off his line to deny Mason Robertson and later Bazie Armand saw his try go out after deflecting from a Churchill player.
Churchill FC are now on 19 points, while Kashmir are in seventh place with 15 points.