Mapusa (Goa): Table toppers Churchill Brothers suffered a shock solitary goal defeat at the hands of Sporting Clube de Goa in a 19th round match of the I-League at Duler Stadium here on Friday. Substitute Rovan Pereira scored the only goal of the match in the 83rd minute after Churchill had done well for a majority of the second half.
Churchill had to play with 10 men after captain Dharamraj Ravanan was sent off in the 49th minute for a second bookable offence. Both the teams missed chances in the first half although Sporting Clube should have opened their account for all the possession and chances that they had.
Victorino Fernandes, Sporting's lone striker, had the first look at the rival goal midway into the opening session when he was put clear by new Spanish signing Juan Pena, but Victorino went for a quick drive which missed the target narrowly. Jovel Martins had two quick chances for Sporting Clube, but at first he mistimed his effort when fed on the platter by Prathesh Shirodkar and minutes later his volley from close range was way off the mark.
Churchill Brothers who failed to put up a collective performance against their drawn match with Mumbai FC once again could not live up to their reputation having committed far too many errors in the middle. To compound their problems, they were reduced to 10 men early in the second half after captain Dharmaraj Ravanan picked up his second booking in the 49th minute, a mistimed tackle on Victorino just outside the box.
Once Sporting Clube had the numerical advantage, they were on the hunt for the goal. Nigerian midfielder Ogba Kalu posed a major threat for the rivals and he came close twice in a span of five minutes.
The first was a brilliant counter attack which saw Rojen Singh float the ball into the heart of the Churchill defence where Rovan Pereira chested the ball for Kalu, but his effort sailed inches over the cross bar. Few minutes later, Kalu was there again, this time his volley from close range missed the target by a whisker.
After putting lot of pressure at the rival goal, Sporting succeeded in finding the winner in the 83rd minute when Kalu put a through ball for substitute Seiya Sugishita who somehow laid it into the path of Rovan Pereira who only had to beat onrushing goalkeeper Sandip Nandy.
The win took Sporting to eighth place with 20 points from 18 matches while Churchill Brothers remained on 38 points from 17 matches.