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I-League 2018/19 Roundup: Matchday 15 [31/01-01/02]

I-League Matchday 15
Katsumi Yusa’s penalty late in the game helped NEROCA FC beat Indian Arrows in the 2018/19 I-League.
Photo Courtesy: @ILeagueOfficial

Real Kashmir and Churchill Brothers played out a 1-1 draw in Round 15 of the 2018/19 I-League season. The draw leaves both teams one point behind league leaders, Chennai City FC.

Aizawl FC beat Minerva Punjab FC by a solitary goal, while Katsumi Yusa’s brace helped NEROCA FC overcome Indian Arrows in a five goal thriller.

Plaza on target again in 1-1 draw

FULL TIME: Churchill Brothers SC 1- 1 Real Kashmir FC
CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Willis Plaza (69’); REAL KASHMIR: Farhan Ganie (55’)

Churchill Brothers SC and Real Kashmir FC played out a 1-1 draw at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Goa. The teams had come into the match with hopes of overtaking Chennai City FC.

After a scrappy first 20 mins, for the visitors had the first clear look at goal. Farhan Ganie found Mason Robertson with a long ball. The ball was floated across from just inside the Churchill half. Mason’s volley was collected comfortably by Churchill goalkeeper James Kithan.

The visitors fashioned another opportunity in the 39th minute. Mason squaring the ball to Ritwik, whose shot from just outside the box did not trouble Kithan.

The hosts did make a couple of forays into their rivals box, most of them inspired by their mercurial left-footed captain

Dawda Cessay had made a couple of forays into the Kashmir box, but the visitor’s defense stood strong to keep the Gambian and the league’s top scorer, Willis Plaza quiet.

Churchill started the second half on the front foot, but it was Kashmir who took the lead in the 55th minute.

A grounder by Ganie from outside the Churchill box beat a maze of legs and left Kithan with little time to react.

However, it was Willis Plaza who stepped up to score the equalizer in the 69th minute. A corner by Dawda Cessay was cleared by the Kashmir defense. Nicholas Fernandes found Plaza inside the box from the left flank.

The Trinidadian controlled the ball, before slotting a left-footer past Bilal to score his 16th goal of the campaign.

The draw leaves both teams on 29 points – one point behind the I-League leaders. The Goan team is in second place courtesy of a superior goal difference.

Aizawl pile on Minerva’s misery

FULL TIME: Minerva Punjab FC 0- 1 Aizawl FC
AIZAWL: Lalrinchhana (69’)

Former champions Aizawl FC got the better of defending champions Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 in at the Tau Devi Lal stadium, Panchkula, Haryana on Friday.

For Minerva, the season got from bad to worse, as they piled up their seventh defeat in 15 games. Not an encouraging sign for their upcoming AFC Champions League campaign.

The all-important goal was scored by youngster Lalrinchhana in the 69th minute of the second half.

It was a scrappy affair for most parts of the game, except for a period in the second half when Aizawl looked enterprising.

The first chance of the game fell to Minerva’s Dilliram Sanyasi from a cross from Juan Quero, but the effort lacked power and direction. In the 19th minute, Aizawl’s Kussaga took a shot from distance but Arshdeep in the Minerva goal was equal to it.

The second half saw Aizawl up the ante. After a couple chances to score were missed by the likes of Kussaga and Kareem Nurain, Isak’s run from the right channel brought Aizawl a much-deserved lead in the 69th minute.

He found the youngster, Lalrinchhana, who pulled off a fine header across the face of goal to beat Minerva goalkeeper, Arshdeep.

Akash Sangwan missed an opportunity to equalize a couple of minutes later when he found himself in the clear inside the Aizawl box. However, his shot was woefully ill-directed with only the keeper to beat.

Isak played in Dodoz in the 72nd minute with another ball from the right. The Ivorian’s strike was saved by the Minerva keeper.

With this win, the Stanley Rosario-coached Aizawl leapfrogged their hosts and moved to seventh on the points table, with 14 points. Minerva is in 8th place, with Indian Arrows and Gokulam right behind them.

NEROCA’s Katsumi leaves it late to beat Indian Arrows

FULL TIME: Indian Arrows 2- 3 NEROCA FC
INDIAN ARROWS: Boris Singh (34’); Rohit Danu (62’); NEROCA: Felix Chidi (38’); Katsumi Yusa (68’; 87’ [P])

NEROCA beat Indian Arrows 3-2 in an exciting contest at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

The game started on a slow note, with most of the play taking place in the midfield apart from the occasional attempts from the hosts.

The game came alive in the 34th minute. Boris Singh making most of an opportunity by converted a cross from the right side. The Arrows celebrations did not last long as NEROCA FC soon equalized four minutes later through Felix Chidi.

The second half began with the Indian Arrows leading the proceedings on the attacking front but were unable to make the most from the opportunities that came their way.

A defensive error from NEROCA FC saw them concede another goal to the young Indian Arrows in the 62nd minute. Rohit Danu made the most of the situation as he dispossessed the NEROCA center-back and showed his alertness as he comfortably found the back of the net to regain the lead for Indian Arrows.

However, last season’s runners-ups sprung back into action and found an equalizer through a brilliant header from Katsumi Yusa in the 68th minute, who was given time and space in the penalty area and headed across the opposing keeper to convert a cross from the right flank.

The game thereafter saw NEROCA FC creating many chances but they found the lead until the 87th minute. A handball inside the Arrows box saw the visitors being awarded a penalty kick. Katsumi Yusa made no mistake in finding the back of the net and handed the lead to NEROCA FC for the first time in the game, taking the score to 2-3 in favor of the visitors.

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