Captain Odafe Okolie's lucky header in the 65th minute helped Churchill Brothers draw 1-1 with JCT in a second round match of the I-League football tournament at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium here on Tuesday.
JCT, which lost its first match to HAL (Bangalore) opened its account with the one point it got from the match while Churchill, after holding Dempo, totalled two points from two draws.
JCT got its first real chance in the 10th minute when striker Balwant Singh pounced on an opportunity to shoot from the top of the box. Churchill keeper Lalit Thapa made a timely jump to deny JCT the lead.
While Odafe was heavily marked by the rival players, Bineesh Balan banked on a defensive lapse and almost hit the target following an unopposed solo run. However, he was disappointed to see his attempt being aborted by JCT custodian Pawan Kumar, who dived to his right to make the save.
For all his hard work, Amandeep Singh Bains attained prominence for plotting JCT's lone goal in the 37th minute. He made speedy progress on the right flank following a deft one-touch pass from T. Saran Singh and gave a precise cross to Balwant, who put his side ahead with a fine header.
A little more urgency resulted in more number of attacks from both sides in the second half. Of those, foreign recruit Omoloja Kareem's strong right-footer at the goal was impressive. His flat free-kick travelled a good distance before being cleared by Thapa.
Upfront, efforts of Denzil Franco and Israil Gurung lacked the desired finishing. But Odafe, who missed a few opportunities, enjoyed a slice of luck to guide Gurung's corner kick successfully.
The ball hit the crossbar before landing inside the post as JCT players' acrobatics to stop the equaliser went in vain.
Churchill coach V. Subramaniam was disappointed with the result. “It was a loss of three points,” he said. “We need more strikers like Odafe.”
JCT, however, was happy with the draw. “We played well and could have scored more goals,” coach Parminder Singh said.