I-League 2022-23: Churchill Brothers, RoundGlass Punjab share spoils after goalless stalemate

Goa’s Churchill Brothers FC were held to a 0-0 draw by RoundGlass Punjab FC in the Hero I-League 2022-23 at the Tilak Maidan here on Friday.

The result took Churchill Brothers’ tally to nine points from eight matches as they remained in ninth place. RoundGlass Punjab now have 14 points, two less than leaders Sreenidi Deccan but with a game in hand.

The game began at a slow pace as both teams approached each other cautiously. The home team dominated the play using the overlapping runs on the wings to attack, while RoundGlass Punjab defended well and preferred to build from the back.

The first chance of the game came in the 25th minute when RoundGlass Punjab’s Brandon Vanlalremdika made an explosive run down the right before cutting back to lay a pass for Adnan Secerovic but the Bosnian midfielder skied his shot over the bar.

At the half-hour mark, Tana won a free kick for the hosts in the attacking third after being brought down by Pranjal Bhumij. Midfielder Sharif Mukhammad took the free-kick but applied too much power as the Afghan’s effort went off target, according to information received from the AIFF.

In the final minutes of the opening half, RoundGlass Punjab did most of the attacking. Secerovic delivered a teasing free-kick into the area but defender Valpuia couldn’t time his jump well enough to find the required connection. As the visitors started to pile the pressure on the Churchill defence, Ponif Vaz remained a rock at the back. The defender made multiple blocks and clearances to make sure the scores remained level at half-time.

RoundGlass Punjab began the second half on the front foot too. Four minutes in, Freddy Lallawmawma ran through the left before crossing the ball to Bhumij near the penalty spot. However, Bhumij, with just the goalkeeper Albino Gomes to beat, shot straight at him. In the 64th minute, Secerovic launched a cross into the box and Valpuia once again got on the end of it. This time the defender made a better connection on the ball but sent his header straight at goalkeeper Gomes.

On the other end, Tana played Abdoulaye Sane inside the box and the striker, with just the goalkeeper to beat, failed to take the shot and Punjab’s custodian Kiran Chemjong collected the ball.

With just three minutes of regulation time left, the visitors had the best chance of the night. Substitute Juan Mera took a free-kick in the attacking third, sending the ball deep into the six-yard box. From Mera’s delivery, his fellow substitute Samuel Lalmuanpuia headed the ball towards the penalty spot for Freddy Lallawmawma, who took a first-time shot at goal but it was cleared away by Ponif Vaz at the goal line.

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