Kozhikode: Churchill Brothers were held to a 1-1 draw by Gokulam Kerala FC in their 2018/19 I-League encounter at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Friday.
On the balance of play, Gokulam will feel they should have sneaked it as they dominated proceedings and created better goal-scoring chances in front of their home fans.
Nonetheless, It was a result that fairly reflected an absorbing encounter as Churchill were held to a fourth draw in six matches this season, although they are still unbeaten.
Gokulam had a few promising moments early on, but were kept in check by Churchill’s defence of Hussein El Dor and Nenad Novakovic.
It was at the other end, however, where the opening goal arrived, and it was Trinidadian forward Willis Plaza who slotted a right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner to give Churchill the lead in the 5th minute.
The early setback galvanised Gokulam into action and they poured forward in search of an equaliser. The Churchill defence, while under pressure at this stage, held firm and ensured that they retained the advantage.
But the pressure eventually told and it was Arjun Jayaraj who scored from Christian Sabah’s pass in the 36th minute to level the scoreline.
Five minutes before the break, Gokulam went close via a free-kick from Antonio German, but the Churchill defence was able to avert the danger as the both teams went into the break locked at 1-1.
The second-half was more of the same with Gokulam creating most of the chances, while Churchill looked to pounce on the counter.
Four minutes into the session, the home side had a great chance to take the lead when German played in Rajesh S, but the striker ballooned the effort over the bar. In the 60th minute, Sabah had another chance to score for Gokulam, but struck his shot into the side-netting.
Churchill, though, were always dangerous on the break and, in the 74th minute, they had a wonderful opportunity, but Gokulam goalkeeper Shibinraj Kunniyil saved to deny Dawda Ceesay from scoring.
In the final minutes there was end to end action as German forced a good save from Churchill custodian James Kithan in the 84th minute.
Then in the 89th minute Churchill almost capitalised from another quick break which saw Plaza breaking free on the right, but he failed to grab his brace and a late winner as he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Following the draw, Churchill remain on second position with 10 points from 6 matches while Gokulam on third with 9 points from 6 matches.