The Red Machines sit two points behind league leaders Chennai City following Saturday’s win.
Churchill Brothers scraped past Indian Arrows 2-1 at the Tilak Maidan, Goa to move back into second place in the I-League standings. A first half brace from hitman Willis Plaza helped them get all three points against a resurgent Arrows side, who came agonizingly close to snatching a point, as Sanjeev Stalin’s late penalty was saved by James Kithan. Here are our talking points for the game.
5. The Plaza-Ceesay combination keeps on providing for Churchill Brothers
Plaza might be the man in hot form this season, but he needs to be thankful for having Dawda Ceesay by his side. The Red Machines’ captain is proving to be their creative lynchpin in the final third. By using his physical prowess along with his fantastic crossing, he continued to trouble Indian Arrows.
He created another goal for Plaza, sending in a blazing cross which was met perfectly by the Trinidad and Tobago striker. Their partnership ended up winning another game for Churchill.
4. Did Indian Arrows’ electricity in attack take Churchill by surprise?
Indian Arrows’ perseverance in attack troubled Churchill Brothers
Rather than playing out a defensive game, Floyd Pinto’s Arrows side showed a lot of heart against the dangerous Red Machines. They had a lot to deal with defensively, but when going forward, the young boys looked perfectly synched. The Arrows created quite a few glaring chances, with Rohit Danu, Abhijit Sarkar and Rahul KP all putting in hard-working shifts in attack. While physicality has been their bane throughout, Deepak Tangri rose above towering Churchill defenders to equalize things.
With that goal, it almost seemed like the hosts weren’t prepared to have to defend so rigorously. Arrows continued to throw men forward in the hunt for an equalizer and even earned a penalty after a decent move. Kithan’s heroics might’ve saved Churchill on the day, but undermining Arrows’ threat almost came back to haunt them.
3. Was Richard Costa’s absence the reason for Churchill’s sloppiness in midfield?
Richard Costa sat out the game for Churchill Brothers, with Nickson Castanha coming in for him in midfield as a result. While Israil Gurung returned to the starting XI, the Red Machines’ midfield seemed very weak. Indian Arrows realized this, helping them dominate chunks of possession throughout the game and Amarjit Singh Kiyam operated well through the middle.
Castanha was too rash, getting booked early on and having to play cautiously after that. Thus, allowing Arrows to play it out in the middle. Costa’s creativity was sorely missed. While Churchill scraped through in the end, their lacklustre performance was due to the absence of Costa’s dominant presence in the middle.
2. Did Arrows’ lacklusterly finishing cost them a point?
While Indian Arrows did really well to create quite a few clear chances throughout the game, their below-par finishing came back to haunt them once again. The Colts created quite a few chances in the first half, but indecisiveness in front of goal cost Danu and Co. Having to come from behind in the second period, the Arrows pushed men forward to look for an equalizer.
They came close on many occasions, working the ball into the box well, but that cutting edge in the final third was missing. Sanjeev Stalin’s penalty miss summed up their frustrations in front of goal.
1. Is Willis Plaza enjoying the best form of his life with Churchill Brothers?
Plaza’s brace takes his tally for the season to 15 in the league
Plaza looks like a man on a mission right now. While the objective is to put pressure on Chennai City, he’s also eying the crown of winning the I-League Golden Boot. After being mocked and criticized at East Bengal, Plaza’s fantastic work this season has silenced all his critics. He continued his amazing form against Indian Arrows, scoring a commandingheader to give his side the lead.
Plaza then regained their lead by stealing the ball from the Arrows, before toying with their multiple defenders and slotting in emphatically with his left foot. He came close to completing his hat-trick in the second half, but his energetic performance won them another crucial three points. Plaza is not only the highest goalscorer in the I-League this season, but he’s also enjoying the best time of his career, playing free-flowing football and scoring goals for fun for the Red Machines.