A heroic performance by Neroca goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh helped the Manipuri side defeat Churchill Brothers 1-0 and halt their winning run in the I-League.
Churchill Brothers named an unchanged squad that had beaten Indian Arrows 2-0, while there were three changes for the visiting Neroca FC.
Neroca FC coach Gift Raikhan made three changes from the (0-1) defeat against Minerva Punjab FC with Saran Singh, Pritam Singh and Dhananjoy Singh coming into the playing eleven.
Pritam Singh made an immediate impact as he drew a double save from Churchill custodian James Kithan in the 8th minute.
Neroca FC finally managed to find a breakthrough when Churchill Brothers’ fullback Wayne Vaz brought down Subash Singh in the box as the forward was racing down the left and the referee didn’t hesitate to award them a spot-kick in the 21st minute.
Felix Odili stepped up and coolly steered the ball under the outstretched arms of Kithan as the visitors led 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
Churchill then made several attempts to bridge the gap and gain a lead.
Neroca goalkeeper Bishorjit had to make a timely save to deny PM Britto, who tried to curl a shot into the net from 12 yards out.
Meetei also tried a shot from distance that swerved away from goal.
Then came a series of attempts from a corner when Osagie Monday, Ceesay and Eldor Hussein all tried to breach the Neroca backline which held on.
Koffi had a shot after chesting down a pass from the middle but Bishorjit dived in time to hold onto it. It was then the turn of Bektur Talgat to fire at goal but that was saved again.
Until the final whistle, Neroca hanged on to their slender lead to walking away with all three points to close the gap with leaders Minerva Punjab FC.
Churchill Brothers FC Goa will next host Minerva Punjab FC and Neroca FC will host Gokulam Kerala FC on January 4.