Margao: Defending champions Churchill Brothers run the risk of being relegated from the I-League after they lost 0-2 to United Sports Club in a penultimate round match here.
Eric Brown struck twice -- in the 48th and 71st minutes -- as United SC beat 10-man Churchill in a Round 23 match at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda to save themselves from relegation. The win takes United Sports to 26 points from 23 matches while Churchill remained on 22 points from 23 matches to occupy the 12th place in the 13-team standing.
The relegation battle will now be fought between Churchill and Mohammedan Sporting who are now at the bottom with 21 points from 23 matches. Mohammedan play Mumbai FC on April 27 in Mumbai in their last match while Churchill take on Salgaocar the next day in Goa.
United SC, who needed a draw to avoid relegation, preferred to defend their citadel allowing Churchill Brothers to dictate terms. Churchill Brothers` Balwant Singh and Anthony Wolfe came up with a couple of long shots at the goal but rival keeper did well to keep them away.
Churchill Brothers, who need a win to move out of relegation, got a rude shock 10 minutes before the interval when midfielder Abdel Hamid Shabana had to leave the field when he got the second yellow card from referee Pratap Singh for a foul on Eric Brown.
Left one-man short, the home side was not able to dictate terms in the midfield as they did in the first half and the visitors cash in on the numerical advantage to score two goals after the breather.
After the break, Churchill nearly took the lead when Denzil Franco sent a cross for Balwant Singh whose diving header was, however, collected by keeper Abhijit Das.
After this close shave, United Sports Club made a counter attack and succeeded in finding the net when Sukhen Dey, from the right, sent a cross into the box for Eric Brown whose diving header bounced in front of rival keeper Lalit Thapa and the ball went over the keeper into the net in the 49th minute.
Brown then made the issue safe for United SC when he received a loose ball, sprinted down into the rival box with Denzil Franco making a frantic effort to tackle him but to no avail, uncorked a curling left footer that found the roof of the net in the 71st minute.