Defending champions Aizawl FC defeated Churchill Brothers 1-0, thanks to a late strike by forward Yugo Kobayashi. Aizawl are now upto four points, after earning a 2-2 draw in their opening game against East Bengal.
William Lalnunfela, who scored a brace against East Bengal was the notable absentee as Shylo ‘Mama’ Malsawmtluanga did not make the starting eleven.
Churchill coach Mykola Shevchenko made three changes to his playing XI that faced Mohun Bagan in their previous match. Suraj Singh and Israil Gurung took the field as Karthik Govindswamy and Emuejeraye Precious failed to retain their place.
The home side did not waste time in carving out their first chance of the match. Centre back Masih Saighani perfectly weighted a through ball which was chased down by Lalmuankima to deliver a perfect cross for Ivorian forward Leonce Dodoz, but the ex-Chanmari forward could not convert his golden chance.
His header was parried away by Churchill goalkeeper James Kithan. Japanese forward Kobayashi’s shot from inside the box was blocked by centre-back Osagie Monday a few seconds later.
Though Aizawl dominated possession for the better part of the first half, they could not create any clear-cut chances, an injury to David Lalrinmuana dented the home team as they lacked creativity and ideas in the attacking third of the pitch. The first half ended in a scoreless draw.
After the hour-mark, the home side upped the tempo and created several good chances but Kobayashi could not convert the chances that fell to him, including a header that sailed over the bar.
Just when Churchill thought they had nicked a point from the game, Kobayashi scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute. Having collected Dodoz’ pass, the Japanese unleashed a left-footed shot which flew past Kithan.
Aizawl with 4 points from 2 games now move up to the fifth spot on the table but Churchill Brothers remain bottom of the table with no points from three games.
The Goan team have to quickly shrug off the loss as they travel to Kolkata to play East Bengal on December 16. Aizawl will play their next home game against Shillong Lajong in the NorthEast derby on the 18th.