Kalyani, Feb 3 (PTI) Table-toppers Churchill Brothers were held to a goal-less draw by former champions Aizawl FC in an I-League match at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium here on Wednesday.
Both the teams create scoring chances but the match ended in a stalemate as neither side was able to convert inside the box.
With the draw, Churchill Brothers retained their pole position, while Aizawl FC can slip down the table, depending on how TRAU fare on Thursday.
Shortly before kick-off, Churchill Brothers' head coach Fernando Varela was awarded the Coach of the Month award for January and minutes into the match, the Red Machines tried to take an early advantage.
However, Churchill Brothers missed the services of top-scorer Clayvin Zuniga, who didn't play due to an injury.
In the eighth minute, Aizawl's custodian almost bundled the ball into his own net after Bryce Miranda's swirling corner kick caught him off guard.
In the 10th minute, MC Malsawmzuala's free-kick from 25 yards rattled the woodwork and came back into play as Churchill survived.
But perhaps the best opportunity of the first half fell to Churchill midfielder Shubert Pereira five minutes after.
Pereira was found by a long ball inside Aizawl box and the midfielder twisted and turned his marker before unleashing a curling shot. The shot earned an equally good save by the Aizawl custodian.
With Churchill Brothers playing a high line and dominating possession, Aizawl FC tried to press from the front and win the ball higher up the field.
Half chances fell equally for both teams but decent saves by the goalkeepers meant that neither could take the lead. Churchill missed the spark of creativity upfront with Luka Majcen playing as the lone striker flanked by Bryce Miranda and Shubert Periera.
Just before half-time, Shubert Periera's long-range attempt from distance saw a good save by the Aizawl custodian.
In the 56th minute, Aizawl FC had a golden opportunity to go ahead when Zuala found Ramhlunchhunga inside the box with a long through-ball.
The midfielder, however, skied his volley with only the opposition custodian to beat. Aizawl FC pressed Churchill Brothers in an attempt to steal three points but were largely kept at bay.
Half chances came for Luka Majcen but the forward failed to make the most out of them.
With Churchill missing three of their starting XI players, the Red Machines tried to salvage a point from the match and committed bodies in defence.
Aizawl FC had a late chance to take the lead in the 85th minute when MC Zuala rose above his marking defender and unleashed a thunderous header which went just wide of the goal. PTI ATK PDS PDS