Sporting ruin Churchill’s dream of I-League crown

February 16th, 2008 - 9:56 pm ICT by admin  

Margao, Feb 16 (IANS) Substitute Freddy Mascarenhas scored a wonderful goal with his first touch as Sporting Clube de Goa ruined Churchill Bros Sports Club’s I-League title dream with a 1-1 draw, at the Nehru Stadium here. Though Churchill Bros led the proceedings by a 11th minute header from Odafe Okolie, substitute Freddy Mascarenhas left Churchill supporters in tears with his wonderful strike, 10 minutes from close.

The draw left Churchill Bros with 33 points, one more than Dempo Sports Club, who play Salgaocar Sports Club Sunday.

If Dempo, as expected, wins against their archrivals Sunday, the defending National Football League champions will open a two-point gap at the top of the table. They will then need only a point in the final game against Viva Kerala slated for Feb 23.

Saturday’s draw was the proverbial bolt from the blue for Churchill who was looking to open a three-point lead at the top and put pressure on favourites Dempo.

However, the Durand Cup champions have themselves to blame as they missed several scoring chances in the first session.

Churchill appeared to turn the heat on Dempo with a frenzied opening against Sporting Clube whose goalkeeper Felix D’Souza had to make three superlative saves inside nine minutes.

Felix, however, could do nothing as his defenders simply allowed Odafe Okolie the space and time to head home a measured cross from R. Vashum.

The goal seemed just what the doctor ordered for Churchill Bros to notch a big win and overtake Dempo’s superior goal difference.

However, what followed next had coach Karim Bencherifa rub his eyes in disbelief as Churchill Bros were left to rue their inability to put Sporting Clube to the sword.

It was Odafe who could, and should, have put Churchill ahead when Gourmangi Singh combined to put Odafe in the clear following a Naoba Singh flag-kick, but the Nigerian striker was not in a position to slam the ball inside the nylons, from handshaking distance.

Two minutes later, a run down the right flank by Naoba saw his cross find Mboyo unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box. But the lanky striker could not direct his free header wide of the goalkeeper.

Late in the second session, Churchill were left to rue their missed chances when Freddy Mascarenhas rose from the bench to score what was arguably the best goal of the I-League.

A full-blooded shot from almost 35 yards out brooked no answer from Churchill custodian Viney Singh.

The goal left Churchill supporters in tears. Little wonder Dempo are now smacking their lips.

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