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Churchill, bankmen draw

Calcutta, Jan. 11: In the end, both Churchill Brothers and Indian Bank must have rued missing out on full points. The Chennai outfit for making a hash of opportunities, particularly in the second half. And the Goan team over how midfielder Kanta Singh failed to hit bullís eye from inside the six-yard zone in second-half injury time.

The TVS Fiero IFA Shield match between two National League contenders at the Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon promised much but produced a drab goalless deadlock.

The Churchill midfield showed some genuine authority and called the shots in the early minutes of the match. Indian Bank hit back with Nigerian recruit Stanley Festus combining well with Syed Sabir Pasha and ensuring that the Goan defence didnít get much time to relax.

All these, of course, got overshadowed by the perpetual problem of the striker ó erratic attempt on first touch, sluggish chase and slack control in advantageous positions. Chances were ruined and surprisingly, the foreigners were no exception to the rule.

It was Indian Bank who made the first concrete attempt, in the 15th minute. Festus got hold of a loose ball outside the box, controlled it nicely keeping Noel Wilson ó who played the role of a sweeper ó at bay. But the powerful Nigerian made heavy weather of his final touch, shooting way above the crossbar.

On the half-hour mark, Churchill were able to open up the rival defence, thanks to a brilliant Denzie Ferrao run down the right. The central defender squared a deft low cross from the touchline, which was first missed by Kanta and then shot wide by Kasif Jamal.

Kanta again squandered a chance nine minutes from the breather. The diminutive midfielder followed the trajectory of Wilsonís nice long ball from the centre circle but was off target even with goalkeeper Felix Edward at his mercy.

The Chennai team upped the tempo after the breather. With Pasha probing the left wing and Stanley being fed from the middle, Churchill were forced to a defensive mould. Joseph failed to place the ball past an advancing Edward Ansah in the 59th minute. This was followed soon by another Pasha-Festus move, which culminated in the latter hitting the goalkeeper straight from close.

Then came Kantaís chance to make the rivals pay for such misses. The Churchill player was unmarked when he collected a loose ball in the far end of the box, with the goalkeeper standing in the other corner. However, Kanta delayed in taking the shot, allowing defender Anandarajan to stretch out and reduce the angle. Kanta was thus denied the matchwinner.

Teams

CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Edward Ansah; Noel Wilson, Denzie Ferrao, Zaheer Abbas, Pio Rodrigues, Rajesh Meetei; Roque Barreto, Aqueel Ansari (Anil Kumar, 81m), Kanta Singh; Kasif Jamal, Yusif Yakubu.

INDIAN BANK: Felix Edward; David Maria, Antony Noel, Anandarajan, Villy, Harish; Mohammed bin Hassan, Joseph (Basheer Ahmed, 83), Ravi Babu (Hamilton Bobby, 78); Stanley Festus, Syed Sabir Pasha.

Referee: Jayanta Chakraborty.

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