I-League: Relegation Decider Between Mumbai & Churchill Ends In A Stalemate
The potential relegation six-pointer between Mumbai FC and Churchill Brothers ended in a goalless draw in Mumbai on Saturday.
It was the first test for newly appointed Head Coach Oscar Bruzon, and the Spaniard chose to field an attacking lineup with Karan Sawnhey and Victorino Fernandes both making the starting eleven as forwards. A familiar back four comprising Centre backs Djelaluddin Sharityar and Mehrajuddin Wadoo flanked by full backs Munmun Lugun and Reagan Singh looked to keep Churchill at bay.
Alex Willian cleared the pre-match fitness test and he was declared fit to play, joined by midfield compatriots Densill Theobald (Captain), youngster and Mumbaikar Farukh Choudhary, and Lalchhawnkima. Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani looked ever present under the woodwork.
The attack-minded setup was replicated by Derrick Pereira who reciprocated in kind with three registered forwards, albeit it was inevitable one of the three would drop back into midfield as a false nine. Captain Anthony Wolfe, their target man was ably supported by Brandon Fernandes and Ghanefo Ansumana.
The tone of the match looked set in the opening minutes as Churchill looked to keep possession and frustrate Mumbai FC. Farukh Choudhary looked to run clear in the fourth minute but was fouled by Chester Paul Lyngdoh who was subsequently booked. The freekick taken by Densill Theobald was cleared.
Just before the half-hour mark, Churchill had a moment when Anthony Wolfe’s solo run was negated by the Mumbai defence for a corner. Mumbai FC produced plenty of build-up play, especially in the midfield which resembled a diamond.
Alex Willian had a freekick attempt in the 35th minute, which was a couple of inches high. The attempt coming just when the game needed some blood. A couple of minutes later, Densill Theobald whipped in a cross, which was headed by Alex Willian onto the post. It was the closest Mumbai FC had come to scoring since a few games.
Churchill came out of the half, looking the more dangerous side as they forced Laxmikant Kattimani to thwart them with some superb saves. Just at the hour’s mark, Churchill almost went one goal up as Ghanefo Kromah struck the post. A minute later, Chester Paul Lyngdoh was denied by Kattimani at point blank range, Mumbai FC hanging on of dear life.
As the clock ticked 70 minutes, there was a hint of desperation about Mumbai FC’s play as they surged forward hurriedly whenever Churchill gave the ball away. Churchill looked content to sit back and absorb all the pressure Mumbai hurled at them.
Exactly 8 minutes later, Mumbai FC put together a move one would be proud of, culminating in Clyde Fernandes’ rocket of shot inches over the post. As normal time ended, and extra time beckoned it looked too late for Mumbai FC to get that vital goal which could save their season. And there it was, hard luck for both the sides in a well-contested game. Both the sides share the spoils in a 0-0 draw.
After this draw, Mumbai FC are still tottering at the bottom of the table with 11 points from 15 outings whereas Churchill Brothers FC Goa have six points clear of them.