Minerva prevail in nine-goal I-League thriller against Churchill
Vasco (Goa), Feb 19 (IANS) Top division newcomers Minerva Punjab FC recorded the second victory of their campaign, edging past former champions Churchill Brothers 5-4 in a rip-roaring I-League encounter at the Tilak Maidan here on Sunday.
David Ngaihte (4th minute) opened the floodgates for the visitors before Chesterpaul Lyngdoh (7th) equalised for Vasco. Adil Khan (18th) gave Churchill the lead but Simranjit Singh (22nd) levelled the scores for Minerva.
Souvik Das (31st) made it 3-2 for Minerva but a Ansumana Kromah (41st) strike ensured none of the teams enter the break with an advantage.
Like the start of the match, Minerva scored first in the second half, Loveday Okechukwu (51st) finding the back of the net. But their joy, as was the case for both sides in the tie, was shortlived as Kromah (76th) scored his second of the day from the penalty spot to level the affair at 4-4.
But a handball by Churchill captain Keenan Almeida inside the box in the dying minutes of the match saw Kareem Omolaja slam home form the resultant penalty and clinch the full three points for Minerva.
The result saw Minerva leapfrog from the ninth to the seventh position with 10 points from same number of matches. Churchill remained rock bottom with six in their kitty from 10 outings. This was the highest scoring game this season.
The visitors took just four minutes to nose ahead, Ngaihte heading in Kamalpreet Singh’s cross with Churchill defenders Rowilson Rodrigues and Adil Khan failing to do anything as the ball passed between them and went past goalkeeper Priyant Singh.
The hosts, under new coach Derrick Pereira, restored parity three minutes later. Lyngdoh made a solo run through the heart of the Minerva defence, finishing with aplomb past custodian Arnab Das Sharma.
The match gathered frenetic pace thereafter as Adil Khan gave the hosts the lead for the first time in the tie from a Brandon Fernandes corner.
Four minutes later, Minerva equalised. Simranjit Singh turned in a Ngaihte cross at the near post after Souvik Das had taken a short corner.
A minute past the half hour mark, Minerva went ahead for the second time. This time, Das tapped the ball in off Ngaihte’s cross.
There was more in store five minutes from halftime as Wolfe powered in a rebound off Kromah’s strike which richocheted off the upright and fell to the former Trinidad & Tobago international.
The action packed first half ended with both teams level at 3-3.
In the second half, Loveday handed Minerva the lead but Omolaja fouled Kromah inside the area with the latter converting the subsequent penalty.
But the Nigerian made amends scoring from the spot to win the see-saw battle for the visitors.