Table-toppers Churchill Brothers were held to a goalless draw by former champions Aizawl FC at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani on Wednesday. A goalless affair that saw both teams create chances ended in a stalemate as neither side was able to convert inside the box. However, a draw for Churchill Brothers means that they retain their pole position in the I-League while Aizawl FC can slip down the table, depending on how TRAU fare on Thursday.
Shortly before kick-off, Churchill Brothers’ head coach Fernando Varela was awarded the Coach of the Month award for January 2021 and minutes into the match, the Red Machines tried to take an early advantage. However, with top scorer of the Hero I-League so far, Clayvin Zuniga missing the action due to an injury, Churchill Brothers missed his clinical nature upfront despite creating the better chances.
In the 8th minute, Aizawl’s custodian almost bundled the ball into his own net after Bryce Miranda’s swirling corner kick caught him off guard.
Shortly after, a moment of brilliance almost gave Aizawl FC the lead. In the 10th minute, MC Malsawmzuala’s freekick from 25 yards out rattled the woodwork and came back into play as Churchill survived. But perhaps the best opportunity of the first half fell to midfielder Shubert Pereira five minutes after. Pereira was found by a long ball inside Aizawl’s box and the midfielder twisted and turned his marker before unleashing a venomous curling shot. The shot earned an equally good save by the Aizawl custodian.
With Churchill Brothers playing a high line and dominating possession, Aizawl FC tried to press from the front and win the ball higher up the field. Half chances fell equally for both teams but decent saves by the goalkeepers meant that neither could take the lead. Churchill missed the spark of creativity upfront with Luka Majcen playing as a lone striker flanked by Bryce Miranda and Shubert Periera.
Just before half-time, Shubert Periera’s long-range attempt from distance saw a good save by the Aizawl custodian. The match was goalless at half-time as both teams went into the tunnel on level pegging.
In the second half of the match, both teams created chances but failed to convert. In the 56th minute, Aizawl FC had a golden opportunity to go ahead when Zuala found Ramhlunchhunga inside the box with a long through-ball. The midfielder, however, skied his volley right with only the opposition custodian to beat. Aizawl FC pressed Churchill Brothers in an attempt to steal three points but were largely kept at bay. Half chances came for Luka Majcen but the forward failed to make the most out of them.
With Churchill missing three of their starting XI players, the Red Machines tried to salvage a point from the match and committed bodies in defence. In the 77th minute, however, Bazie Armand released Luka Majcen through onto goal but the latter’s shot lacked power and was easily saved.
Aizawl FC had a late chance to take the lead in the 85th minute when MC Zuala rose above his marking defender and unleashed a thunderous header which went just wide of the goal. The full-time scoreline read 0-0 as both teams shared the spoils of battle in the end.