THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Balwant Singh double earns Churchill a point

Christopher Chizoba and Mohun Bagan players celebrating

Christopher Chizoba and Mohun Bagan players celebrating

A brace from Balwant Singh saw Churchill Brothers hold Mohun Bagan to a 2-2 draw in the Round 18 encounter of the Airtel I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday evening.

Balwant put Churchill Brothers in front in the first half but they lost their lead almost immediately as Alesh Sawant scored an own goal.

Christopher Chizoba put Mohun Bagan ahead from a penalty in the second half but Balwant earned the Goan outfit a priceless away point with a strike late on.

Mohun Bagan started the game strongly with Katsumi Yusa wasting two golden opportunities. The Japanese was first sent clean through on goal by Christopher Chizoba but he couldn’t hit the target and then minutes later the former ONGC man could only hit it straight at Churchill keeper Lalit Thapa after a cross from Ram Malik.

Churchill Brothers struggled to get into the game and only created half chances from set-pieces. From one Abdelhamid Shabana freekick, Mohun Bagan custodian Shilton Paul had to punch clear but otherwise the home side’s defence was untroubled in the first half hour.

The visitors opened the scoring after a fine move on the right which ended with Balwant heading home Saran Singh’s cross. However the advantage didn’t even last for a minute as teenager Sawant unfortunately scored past his own keeper while trying to clear a harmless pass from Yusa.

Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa introduced CS Sabeeth at the interval, switching to two forwards and that change paid dividends 11 minutes after the restart as Chizoba won a penalty.

Sabeeth combined well with Chizoba, who was brought down inside the box by Thapa. Chizoba successfully converted from the spot as the Mariners came from behind to go in front.

Churchill Brothers struggled to get back into the game after that as Mohun Bagan defended solidly, putting more men behind the ball.

Subhash Bhowmick introduced Costa Rican international Cristian Lagos in search of the equaliser but the best chances fell to the green-and-maroon brigade. Sabeeth tested Thapa once and hit the woodwork as well while substitute Ujjal Howladar also went close.

Churchill Brothers finally created opportunities in the closing stages as Lagos squandered a couple of free headers from Saran Singh’s corner deliveries.

The equaliser came in spectacular fashion as Balwant got on the end of a long ball and scored with a first-time powerful left-footer past Shilton. It was Balwant’s eighth of this I-League campaign and Anthony Wolfe could have won it for Churchill in stoppage time but couldn’t direct his header goalwards.

(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)