Kolkata, Mar 21 (PTI) A high-octane top-of-the-table clash between TRAU and Churchill Brothers ended in a 1-1 draw here on Sunday, forcing the I-League title to be decided on the last day of the season.
Luka Majcen's 28th minute strike was cancelled out by Phalguni Singh's 43rd minute effort as the teams shared the points.
Although TRAU stay on top of the I-League table, they are level on points (26) with Churchill Brothers.
Churchill, desperate to put behind their woes in the Championship stage of the season that saw them succumb to two back-to-back defeats, started the match on an attacking note.
The Red Machines could have taken the lead as early as the second minute when Luka Majcen was found inside the box off a fine pass. Majcen's shot from close range, however, failed to find the net, as TRAU survived an early scare.
In the 23rd minute, Bryce Miranda missed a sitter and probably the best goal-scoring opportunity of the match. With the goalkeeper out of position, Miranda had to just tap the ball home from close range. But, he fluffed his shot.
Churchill's dominance finally paid off in the 27th minute when the referee pointed to the spot for a clumsy tackle inside the box. Luka Majcen stepped up to take the penalty kick and smashed it home to hand Churchill the lead.
TRAU were playing catch-up to Churchill Brothers for much of the first half. With Komron Tursunov leaving for international duty for Tajikistan, the Nandakumar-coached side struggled to stitch attacks as Bidyashagar Singh was left isolated up front.
However, all it took for the Manipur-based club was one through-ball in the 43rd minute to bring the match to level terms.
A fine pass by Bidyashagar split the defensive pairing of Hamza Kheir and Keenan Almeida in two as Phalguni Singh beat them for speed and latched onto the ball.
With just the opposition goalkeeper to beat, Phalguni slotted the ball home to make the scoreline 1-1.
In the second half, the Red Machines continued their attacking dominance but were left frustrated in the final third as TRAU committed bodies in defence and defended in numbers. PTI PDS PDS ATK ATK