Hyderabad, Feb 4 (IANS): Sreenidi Deccan provisionally moved to the top of the I-League 2022-23 table after recording a comfortable 3-0 victory over Churchill Brothers at the Deccan Arena, here on Saturday.
The Deccan Warriors now have 31 points in 15 matches, a point ahead of RoundGlass Punjab who have a game in hand against Sudeva Delhi on Sunday.
All the goals came in the second half. Captain David Castaneda was on target from the spot to net his 13th goal of the season before substitutes Ramhlunchhunga and Louis Ogana added their names to the scoresheet to pick up three important points for the Deccan Warriors.
The first half did not see much goalmouth action. Churchill Brothers captain Momo Cisse was booked for a foul on his counterpart David Castaneda in as early as the fifth minute.
Both teams were quick in terms of turnovers and transitions but couldn't create any real danger in the attacking third. Goalkeepers Ubaid CK and Albino Gomes didn't have anything to do in the opening half an hour.
The hosts did get close on a few occasions later in the half. Rosenberg Gabriel was off-target with his header following a cross from Faysal Shayesteh, while Castaneda struck a volley from long-range in the 37th minute, but it was straight at Gomes.
Sreenidi's best chance of the first half came three minutes from the break. Shayesteh's corner found Stanislas Ankira free in the six-yard box, but the Congolese couldn't get a good connection on the header and it was easily collected by Gomes.
The second half started in blistering fashion at both ends. A minute in, Churchill's Ponif Vaz gave away the ball to Castaneda just outside the area, but to his relief, the Colombian striker was off target with his volley. On the other end, Kapil Hoble and Kingslee Fernandes saw their shots blocked inside the penalty area.
Eight minutes later, Gabriel got into space on the right wing before sending the ball into the six-yard box for Castaneda. It took a deflection off Joseph Clemente's hand in an unnatural position, leading referee Lalit Singh Rawat to point to the spot. Castaneda was reliable as always from the spot, sending his penalty right into the top corner.
Lalromawia, who was an active force for Sreenidi on the wing, hit the post from his left-footed shot just minutes before the host doubled their advantage. Ramhlunchhunga was played on the left wing by Castaneda, and the substitute continued his run into the box before finding the bottom corner with a precise finish.
While the scoreline may not suggest that, Sreenidi custodian Ubaid had a busy afternoon. He saved an effort from Abdoulaye Sane in the 56th minute and was again well-positioned in the 78th and 82nd minute to save shots from the Senegalese and Emmanuel Yaghr respectively.
Louis Ogana was one of the three changes in injury time and rounded up the victory just seconds after coming on. The Nigerian was fed on the right flank by Ramhlunchhunga before racing into the box and lodging the ball past Gomes in the Churchill goal.