Churchill Brothers reduced the deficit at the top of the league ladder to four points after registering a 2-1 win over Dempo Sports Club in a eighth round I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda.
Dempo were runaway leaders after registering seven successive wins but on Sunday they finally found their match in Churchill Brothers as they suffered their first defeat. Prayag United are now the only unbeaten team in the I-League.
Churchill surged ahead through Antun Kovacic whose volley from a corner, despite being desperately blocked by Valeriano Rebello, was ruled to have crossed the line and at the stroke of half time, Henry Antchouet scored the insurance goal to give Churchill a 2-0 lead in the first session itself.
Selwyn Fernandes headed Dempo’s only goal of the match but that came in the last minute of added time and Dempo had no time to force another goal, leaving coach Armando Colaco to ponder over the three clear chances that his team missed in the second session.
Churchill surged ahead in the 23rd minute when Australian defender Antun Kovacic volleyed home Beto’s corner-kick which was initially headed back. Dempo goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattymani and defender Valeriano Rebello desperately tried to block the ball but the referee after consultations with his assistant judged that the ball had crossed the line.
Dempo had a chance to restore parity but Rowilson Rodrigues’ volley of a corner hit the crossbar and sailed out of play.
Churchill’s second goal was also fortunate as a quick counter attack saw Bineesh Balan release Henry and the Gabonese striker’s feeble attempt hit Dempo defender Valeriano and went into his own goal at the stroke of half time.
After the break, Dempo were a different side and took control of the proceedings. But the former champions lacked the final touch as Ranty Martins, Koko Sakibo and Romeo Fernandes all went close in quick succession.
Dempo’s only goal came too late as Selwyn Fernandes headed home Romeo Fernandes’ cross from the left in the third minute of added time.
Churchill move to 17 points from 18 matches while Dempo stay at the top with 21 points from 8 matches.