Churchill Brothers beat Minerva to climb to third place in I-League
Churchill Brothers made it two wins in a row after Anthony Wolfe struck twice in the second-half against Minerva Punjab to climb to third place in the I-League football tournament. Wolfe was adjudged Hero of the Match for his efforts from the bench. With this win, Churchill have posted 19 points on the board, and are one ahead of Real Kashmir. However, the 'Red Machines' have played one game extra, and the side from the northern-most state of India can reclaim the third spot if they can notch up three points against Mohun Bagan at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. Meanwhile, defending champions Minerva Punjab remained seventh with 13 points from 11 games (3 wins, 4 draws, 4 losses).
Minerva coach Paul Munster introduced Japanese attacker Yu Koboki in place of his compatriot Hitova Ayemi in the 35th minute. Koboki immediately looked to impact the game, as he initiated a couple of quick attacks towards the fag end of the first half. In the 44th minute, he was laid-off by midfielder Akash Sangwan inside the box but was crowded out, before Churchill keeper James Kithan collected the ball. A couple of minutes later, the Japanese attacker again combined with William Opoku, but Koboki was flagged off-side. Changing over to the second half, Churchill boss Petre Gigiu gave it 10 minutes, before bringing on his super-sub Anthony Wolfe. The Trinidadian forward wasted no time and put the Red Machines ahead on the 61st minute.
The 35-year-old put Churchill's three points beyond doubt with just six minutes of regulation time left on the clock, when he slotted a penalty to the left of Minerva keeper Bhaskar Roy. After a great start to the season, Gigiu's side had suffered somewhat of a slump, when they dropped six points in four matches. However, the Red Machines seem to have bounced back with two wins on the trot, and will now be raring to go against Gokulam in their next match. Meanwhile, its dark days for Minerva, as they have picked up only two points in their last four matches. Although the defending champions are just three points from the top half of the table, they are also slipping dangerously close to the drop zone.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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