Panaji: Churchill Brothers FC were held to a 1-1 draw against Salgaocar FC in the Goa Pro eague at Nagoa ground on Wednesday.
Lalkhawpuimawia put the Red Machines ahead in the 68th minute while Devendra Murgaokar scored the equaliser for Salgaocar FC in the 89th minute.
Churchill Brothers coach started with just one foreigner - Abu Bakr giving chance for their local talent pairing Clencio Fernandes and U-20 Preston Fernandes upfront. Meanwhile, Salgaocar FC started Steflon D’Costa upfront along with Devendra while Samuel was back in the side. The Green Brigade brought in Nora Fernandes in the goal also giving a chance to Flagan Rodrigues.
The first half was end to end battle while both sides showed plenty of energy on the field as they battled to get the breakthrough but their attempts were foiled by equally brilliant defence. Though having created the moves, there was no end result as hardly the keepers were tested.
Churchill Brothers came close in finding the breakthrough when a cross from the left flank was headed in by Meldon Silva and with the keeper out of position, the effort narrowly landed wide.
Just before the breather Salgaocar FC had a chance when Stephen Alvarez on seeing Devendra Murgaonkar make a run in the box, played a long which was timely intercepted for corner kick by an alert Churchill Brothers defender Meldon Silva.
From the resultant corner kick, Salgaocar FC once again came close but captain Sanson Pereira’s left footer hit the first post and came back in the play back to Sanson, but this time before he could play in another delivery but again it was dealt neatly by Meldon.
Salgaocar FC created upfront moves with Chaitan and Devendra but a strong Abu Bakr in Churchill Brothers defence made it difficult for the side.
In the second half, Churchill Brothers were awarded a freekick outside the box but Shubert Pereira’s delivery was easily collected by the Salgaocar keeper.
Churchill Brothers had a chance when Nora failed to clear the Quan Gomes freekick in the box, which fell into Churchill Bros’ Abu Bakr’s path but the Trinidad and Tobago defender couldn’t make the best use of the effort.
There was a moment of brilliance from substitute Lalkhawpuimawia when he calmly controlled a Gou Hangshing’s delivery and acrobatically hit a volley which narrowly missed the side post.
Churchill Brothers coach made a switch bringing on Kalif Alhassan in place of Clencio Pinto and the substitute made an immediate impact when he laid a perfect pass to Lalkhawpuimawia in the box and he slammed into the net giving no chance for the Salgaocar keeper Nora.
Lalkhawpuimawia had another chance to double the tally in the next minute but his lob effort with just the keeper at his mercy, sailed over the bar. The striker should have done better with the opportunity.
Salgaocar nearly came close to scoring the leveler when Devendra Murgaokar played a low cross to Stephen Satarkar and the latter who had just the keeper at his mercy, failed to take his chance as his mistimed shot was easily dealt by the keeper.
At the other end, Salgaocar keeper Nora came with a fine save to deny Shubert Pereira.
Lalkhawpuimawia had another chance when Kalif set in a perfect cross from the right flank but once again the latter couldn’t direct his header in the frame.
In the dying minutes of the game, a goalkeeper blunder gifted Salgaocar FC the equalizing goal. Churchill Brothers’ custodian MD Jafar failed to clear a Shubert’s back pass and the ball fell to Devendra Murgaokar, who made no mistake to put the ball back of the net, 1-1. Churchill Brothers will surely rue the miss chances they had after taking the lead.