Vasco da Gama (Goa), Jan 31 (IANS): Anil Gaonkar scored with a solo effort as Churchill Brothers defeated Sudeva Delhi FC 1-0 at the Tilak Maidan here on Monday, moving up to the fifth spot with 20 points from 14 matches in the Hero I-League 2022-23 season.
Gaonkar's hard work on the left wing paid off in the 83rd minute as the Red Machines avoided dropping points once again in a home match here.
Churchill were handicapped by a forced change in the 18th minute as new Uruguayan signing Martin Chaves, playing behind lone strike Emmanuel Yaghr on his first start for the club, got injured and could not continue.
The Red Machines' top-scorer this season, Abdoulaye Sane came on and put on a decent performance. He came close to scoring a world-class goal in the 43rd minute off Gaonkar's cross from the right. With a Sudeva defender on his back not allowing him to turn, Sane chest-trapped the ball and went for an overhead attempt. It did not miss the mark by much.
Churchill were slow off the blocks though, while Sudeva put on a much-improved show, threatening to earn a point on Monday. A major reason for that was their foreign strike duo - Alexis Gomez from Argentina and Tajik recruit Shavkati Khotam. Gomez could have put Sudeva ahead in the 14th minute.
It was the first corner of the match. Gomez took it from the left flank and coming in, got the ball on the rebound from a goalmouth melee. He unleashed a great right-footer, which Albino Gomes saved, diving to his right.
Twelve minutes later, the Argentine beat the Churchill goalkeeper but could not beat the crossbar. His combination with Khotam and Seilenthang Lotjem's runs on the counter-attack will give coach Sankarlal Chakraborty hope for the remaining matches.
Another man responsible for keeping Churchill tense about getting full points for so long is Sudeva goalkeeper Priyant Singh. He made only two errors in the match. On the first occasion in the 17th minute, he missed the flight of Lamgoulen Hangshing's cross from the right, but Yaghr headed it wide of the open goal.
The second error was obviously when Gaonkar scored, but such was the scorer's brilliance in evading marker Sujit Sadhu with a body feint that Priyant can hardly be blamed. On the contrary, had the match stayed goalless, Priyant could have been considered the hero of the match.
The Sudeva Delhi defence played a good match, too. Otherwise, the margin could have been bigger, with Kingslee Fernandes and Ponif Vaz coming close to scoring in the second half.