Odafe`s brace guides Churchill to victory
Margao: Odafe Okolie scored a goal in each half to dash East Bengal`s chances of winning the title as Churchill Brothers edge past them 2-1 to keep their hopes alive in the I-league match at the Nehru Stadium.
Churchill Brothers, who held ball possession for better part of the first led 1-0 at half time and scored through Odafe Okolie(31st, 58th).
East Bengal, who were the better side in the second half, pulled one back through Baljit Sahni in the 79th minute.
The Kolkata`s club`s defeat today puts Goan clubs Salgaocar Sports Club and Dempo in a better position to win the title.
Salgaocar, who are at the top of the table with 53 points, will win the title if they win their last match against JCT as they will end on 56 points.
If Dempo wins all its remaining three matches they too will end on 56 points but will finish second behind Salgaocar, as they have an inferior goal difference.
Churchill, who have an outside chance to win the title, now needs to beat Pune FC in their last match and hope that Salgaocar lose against JCT so that both the teams will finish on 53 points each.
Meanwhile, East Bengal, who have two more matches to play, remained on 47 points from 24 matches.
Earlier, Churchill Brothers started on a promising note as they held ball possession in the first half but met with stiff resistance from the rival defense in the initial stages.
Churchill`s first chance came in the 22nd minute when a move between Binesh Balan and Odafe saw the latter release the ball to Kayne Vincent who shot out. Four minutes later Zakeer Mundampara then fired a salvo which hit the post from 25-yards.
Odafe, who was set up by Kayne Vincent, saw his attempt saved by rival custodian Jayanta Paul who moved up and blocked the ball. But the wily striker then struck a minute after when be beat the keeper Jayanta Paul with a left footer that found the far corner of the net off a pass from Binesh Balan.
East Bengal failed to combine as a team in the first half with their midfield failing to coordinate among themselves. However they came with couple of long shots towards the later part of the first half but Baljit Sahani shot`s sailed over the bar.
Churchill Brothers could have increased the lead after the change of ends but Odafe`s attempt after taking a couple of defenders in his stride missed the target narrowly.
East Bengal made a counter move and Syed Nabi`s try was collected by rival keeper Vinay Singh off a pass from Tolgay Ozbey.
Vincent who was off colour today had couple of chances to increase the lead for Churchill Brothers but while his first attempt was saved by rival keeper, his second shot out from close.
After these close shaves, the East Bengal citadel fell again when Binesh Balan who picked up the ball from the top of the box and raced inside the box. As he tried to slice between two rival defenders, substitute Naoba Singh brought him down and referee Magho Singh pointed to the penalty spot which was converted by Odafe in the 58th minute.
East Bengal then slowly regrouped making a barrage of moves and succeeding in finding the net in the 79th minute.
Substitute Ravinder Singh from the left floated the ball to Naoba Singh whose attempt at the goal saw the ball going to Baljit Sahni who shot in after keeper Vinay Singh made an attempt to put the ball out.
Thereafter, East Bengal made all out efforts to find the equaliser but the Vinay Singh stood firm to save a couple of saves and earn the Man of the Match award in the process.
Referee Magho Singh showed yellow card to Naoba Singh and Churchill Brothers` Denzil Franco.