I-League: Churchill earn hard-fought point against Chennai

Chennai City FC and Churchill Brothers shared a point after a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the ninth round of the I-League on Tuesday.

Churchill took the lead through Brandon Fernandes' 63nd minute free-kick, but lost lead within minutes as Charles De Souza equalized in the 65th. Churchill, who have only one win to their name so far, temporarily came off the bottom of the table on goal difference, but level on six points with Mumbai and Minerva. Chennai remain seventh, a point behind DSK Shivajians in sixth.

Chennai City made no change to the team that defeated Mumbai FC last Saturday. Michael Rejin was handed a start while Charles de Souza led the forward line. Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, made four changes to the team that lost to Aizawl. Priyant Singh, Satish Singh, Suraj and Brandon Fernandes all came in, while Kromah and Wolfe started up front.

After surviving a scare in their penalty box from a corner headed down by Dhanapal Ganesh, Churchill grew into the game and fashioned the first shot on goal in the ninth minute. Brandon lined up a freekick from about 35 yards, and his low piledriver was just kept out by Shahinlal in the Chennai goal.

Edwin Vanspaul had a good chance to score which went begging five minutes later while Churchill had a goal ruled out for offside in the 22nd minute.

The second half started off on a sedate note before Churchill took the lead in the 63rd minute when Echezona was penalised for a handball just outside the area. Brandon Fernandes stood over the freekick and curled in a sublime effort that went in off the post.

However, Chennai equalised within two minutes. Marcos Vinicius, who came on as a second-half substitute, picked up the ball in midfield and sent in a defence-splitting ball that was chested down by Charles and then poked home from close range, despite Priyant getting a hand on it.

There were chances at both ends to grab the winner. Priyant reacted well to smother a one-on-one attempt from Marcos Tank while Shahinlal was forced to palm away a well-struck shot from the Kromah.

Churchill next face fellow strugglers Minerva at home, while Chennai host fourth-placed Shillong Lajong FC.