I-League 2023-24: Late goal sees Sreenidi Deccan snatch three points against Churchill Brothers

February 4, 2024
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A late winner by Eli Sabia helped Sreenidi Deccan beat Churchill Brothers at the Tilak Maidan

Vasco da Gama (Goa), Feb 4 (IANS) A late winner by Eli Sabia helped Sreenidi Deccan beat Churchill Brothers at the Tilak Maidan on Sunday, the late goal keeping their dreams of a first I-League title intact, even as they trail far behind Mohammedan Sporting on the points table.

In a fairly tempered start, it was Sreenidi Deccan who controlled most of the tempo, their passing and midfield gile leaving Churchill’s enforcers under pressure. In a series of set pieces early in the game, Sreenidi showed their aerial threat, imposing themselves on a fairly flaccid Churchill defence.

The first goal duly, and deservedly, arrived in the 11th minute, David Castaneda heading in from a mere two yards from Rilwan Hassan’s cross from the right. Despite Castaneda taking the applause, it was the latter’s inch-perfect cross that really set up the simple finish.

Castaneda had a chance to double his and the team’s tally on the half-hour mark, latching on to another cross from the right flank, from point-blank range. Bilal Khan was at the right place at the right time and palmed it out.

Churchill finally created something remotely worthwhile, deep in first-half injury time, Rahul Raju cutting in to fire into a crowd of Sreenidi defenders as the ball bounced to safety. It was the best they had.

In a much-improved second-half performance, Churchill finally started putting the Sreenidi defence under pressure but lacked composure in the final third to really test the goalkeeper. It took till the 84th minute for them to get a clear-cut chance, and they did not let it go to waste.

Picking up the ball in midfield, Stendly Fernandes played a brilliant through ball to Elhadji Karim Samb. Churchill’s latest signing ran through before finishing deftly past Albino Gomes to serve up the equaliser. Just when it seemed the game was done, Sreenidi provided some late drama, deep in injury time. From Lalromawia’s cross, Eli Sabia headed the ball into the bottom left to spark wild celebrations and ensure Sreenidi’s faltering title dreams survived — for now.

–IANS

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