An injury-struck Churchill Brothers were held to a 1-1 draw by Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) in a Hero I-League match, in Kalyani on Friday. (More Football News)
Despite the draw, Churchill managed to maintain their position at the top of the I-League standings with 11 points from five matches.
TRAU are second in the standings with seven points from five games.
Clayvin Zuniga's 18th-minute header was cancelled by Bidyashagar Singh's 23rd-minute strike, in a match where the Red Machines were forced to make as many as three substitutions due to injuries.
In an end-to-end match that tested the tenacity of both the teams, it was Churchill that started the proceedings on an attacking note.
And they nearly succeeded in securing the lead in the second minute when Clencio Pinto was found in the box by a Luka Majcen cross from the left flank.
Pinto's attempt to tap the ball home, however, missed the target completely as it flashed in front of the goal and went out.
Three minutes later, the leading goalscorer of the I-League, Zuniga had a sniff at goal when his header off a free-kick went inches over the bar.
Attacking momentum finally reaped dividends for Churchill in the 18th minute. A well-worked corner kick taken by Pinto found Zuniga in the box. Zuniga out-jumped his marker and thumped the ball home to give the Red Machines the lead.
Churchill's lead, however, was short-lived as in the 23rd minute Bidyashagar equalised for TRAU when he found the net from a tight angle at the far post after a Komron Tursunov cross was misjudged by the Churchill goalkeeper.
Churchill were dealt two heavy blows next. Goal scorer Zuniga was subbed off along with goalkeeper Shibinraj, owing to injuries on the 30th and 35th minutes respectively.
Kingslee Fernandes, who had come on to replace Zuniga, got into the thick of the action immediately and his shot, shortly after coming on, went past the opposition's goal.
The Red Machines were forced to make another substitution owing to an injury in the 44th minute when Richard Costa was replaced by Vinil Poojary.
At half-time, there was nothing to separate the two teams as they went into the tunnel with the scores tied at 1-1.
TRAU came on spurred in the second half, trying to take advantage of a weakened Churchill side.
Komron Tursunov, on the 48th minute, trotted into the box after being found by a through ball, but just before the Tajik forward was able to shoot, the referee blew his whistle for offside.
In the 56th minute, substitute Vinil Poojary's outside-of-the-boot shot from close range went whiskers wide of the goal as Churchill looked to take the upper hand of the proceedings.
With the Red Machines playing a high line and pressing from the front, TRAU used counter-attacks to exploit Churchill's defence.
However, on the 68th minute, TRAU, much against the run of play, had a golden opportunity denied after Joseph Mayoya's effort from inside the box was blocked by Churchill's defence.
In the 74th minute, TRAU had a golden opportunity to surge ahead when a through ball found Mayowa inside the box. The forward, with only the goalkeeper to beat, rattled the post with his effort as Churchill survived.
Tursunov's effort, shortly after, was heroically saved by substitute goalkeeper Shilton Paul.
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