Chennai City and Churchill Brothers have played out a 1-1 draw at Chennai in the round nine I-League encounter on Tuesday. After a barren first half, Charles de Souza’s (65′) goal cancelled out Brandon Fernandes’ goal (63′) from the sublime freekick.
Chennai City made no change to the team that defeated Mumbai FC on last Saturday. Michael Rejin was handed a start while Charles de Souza led the lines for the South Indian side.
Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, made as many as four changes to the team that lost in Aizawl. In came Priyant Singh, Satish Singh, Suraj and Brandon Fernandes while Kromah and Wolfe led the lines for the Red Machine.
After surviving a scare in their penalty box from a corner which was headed down by Dhanapal Ganesh, Churchill grew into the game and fashioned the first shot on goal in the ninth minute. Brandon lined up a freekick from about 35 yards and let rip a low, piledriver which was just kept out by Shahinlal under the Chennai goal.
Edwin Vanspaul had a good chance to score which went begging five minutes later while Churchill had a goal ruled out for offside in the 22nd minute. After Shahinlal spilled a cross from Chesterpoul Lyngdoh, Kromah capitalised and got a shot away which was on target. But the linesman deemed that Anthony Wolfe interfered with the shot from an offside position and ruled the goal out, much to the chagrin of the Churchill players.
There were several more chances in the first half, most notable being when Charles was sent through on goal only to see Priyant Singh come off his line to smother effectively. Brandon Fernandes also saw another freekick from the left wing go just over the crossbar as the half finished goalless.
The second half started off on a sedate note before Churchill took the lead in the 63rd minute when Echezona was penalised for a handball just outside the area. Brandon Fernandes stood over the freekick and curled in an absolute beauty that went in off the post, sending Churchill bench into an ecstasy.
However, their joy did not last long. Within two minutes, Chennai City equalised after a good work from Marcos Vinicius, who came on as a second-half substitute. He picked the ball up in midfield and sent in a defence-splitting ball that was chested down by Charles and then poked home from close range, despite Priyant getting a hand on it.
There were chances for both teams later to notch the winner. Priyant reacted well to smother a one-on-one attempt from Marcos Tank while Shahinlal was forced to palm away a well-struck shot from the tireless Kromah, who ran his heart out on the night.
However, both teams slackened the pace of the game in the final 10 minutes or so and seemed intent on not losing a point rather than winning all three.
Ultimately, the draw takes Churchill to six points and temporarily stranded at the eighth spot owing to their better goal difference over Mumbai FC & Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai City climb to the seventh spot with eight points in nine games.