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The I-League 2018-19 title race has hotted up further as contenders Churchill Brothers and Real Kashmir played out a 1-1 draw on Thursday at the Tilak Maidan, Goa.

Farhan Ganie gave the visitors the lead in the 55th minute from a long-range strike but Willis Plaza scored his 16th goal of the season to guarantee at least a point for Churchill.Petre Gigiu made three changes in the Churchill Brothers starting XI which defeated Indian Arrows 2-1 in their last match. Wayne Vaz, Khalid Aucho and Richard Costa returned to the lineup, replacing Nenad Novakovic, Nickson Castanha and Israil Gurung.

David Robertson too made a change in the Real Kashmir lineup which defeated league Chennai City FC in their last game. Ritick Das made his way into the starting XI, replacing star striker Gnohere Krizo.

Coach Robertson deployed his son Mason as the lone striker for Real Kashmir as both Krizo and Abednego Tetteh missed the clash due to suspension.

The visitors enjoyed more of the ball in the first half and came close to scoring on two occasions. The first chance was squandered by Armand Bazie who failed to nod the ball in from handshaking distance off Mason’s cross.

Farhan Ganie failed to convert just minutes before the half time from a shot at goal from inside the box. Credit to Churchill defender Hussein Eldor who valiantly stopped the shot.

Both teams started the second half with more intensity as they needed full points to climb to the top of the league table.

Wayne Vaz almost scored an own goal from Mason Robertson’s cross but thankfully his shot was not on target and went out for a corner.

Real Kashmir finally broke the deadlock from the resulting corner kick as Farhan Ganie found the back of the net. Surchandra Singh floated a cross which was initially fisted out by James Kithan but Ganie received the ball and converted in his second try at the goal. 

The top scorer of the league, Willis Plaza netted his 16th goal for Churchill in the 70th minute to restore parity in the match. N. Mohanraj found Plaza at the edge of the box and the striker slotted home. (Courtesy Goal.com)