Indian Arrows who are often accused of conceding late goals launched an extraordinary fight-back to win 2-1 against Churchill Brothers in their Hero I-League encounter at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Saturday (February 10, 2018).
The Arrows were trailing 1-0 till the 90th minute after an 11th-minute strike from Dawda Ceesay and were staring at another defeat until substitute Abhijit Sarkar scored two injury time goals to turn the game upside down.
Following the stupendous win over high-flying Churchill Brothers FC Goa, that too, at their stomping ground Tilak Maidan takes the young Turks to the eighth spot with 14 points from 15 matches whereas the Red Machines are positioned one step up having amassed 16 points from 13.
There were two changes for Indian Arrows from their last outing against Kingfisher East Bengal. Rahum Ali’s injury meant coach Luis Norton de Matos had to bring in Nongdamba Naorem and local boy Princeton Rebello also got a start dropping Abhijit Sarkar to the bench. But few would have predicated Sarkar alongside Boris Singh would make such an enormous impact to the game.
For Churchill Brothers, the only change from the team that beat Aizawl FC was Kalu Ogba replacing Bektur Talgat Uluu. It was Churchill Brothers who drew first blood.
Nicholas Fernandes beat Asish Rai and worked his way to the by-line before floating a ball into the far post. Dawda Ceesay calmly nodded the ball past Arrows keeper Prabhusukhan Gill to make it 1-0 in the 11th minute.
There were no notable actions other than Ceesay’s goal in the first-half.
After the changeover, Churchill Brothers’ Eldor Hussein rattled the crossbar from a free-kick in the 54th minute.
The work-rate of the youngsters could not be faulted and they kept going at the Churchill defence, but nothing came of it as they barely tested James Kithan.
This was until Kithan almost gifted the Arrows a goal in the 65th minute.
A shot by Deepak Tangri from outside required a routine save from the keeper. Kithan spilt the ball right in front of Rahul. The forward wasn’t expecting the opportunity and ended up fluffing his shot.
As the clock was winding down, Matos tried to salvage something from the game and brought in Abhijit Sarkar, Edmund Lalrindika Boris Singh and Boris and Sarkar made a game-changing impact in the dying minutes of the game.
Just when Churchill felt the game was won, Boris Singh fought off the challenge of Eldor Hussein and ran down the right flank before picking out Sarkar who slid in and put the ball past Kithan.
They stunned Churchill Brothers when they breached their defence once again.
Following a quick flurry of passes amongst Deepak Tangri and Edmund Lalrindika, finally, it landed onto Abhijit Sarkar, who was left unmarked inside the box, to curl the ball into the net as the spectators went into raptures.
Indian Arrows will have a 5-day recovery period as they host defending champions Aizawl FC at the same venue on February 16, 2018 and Churchill Brothers will now fly to Imphal to challenge debutants Neroca FC two days before.