Mumbai City FC secured a spirited 2-1 comeback victory against Churchill Brothers in their first group stage game of the Super Cup after going a goal down very early in the first half. Rowllin Borges put in a Man of the Match performance in the game for his stellar set-piece deliveries and all-action display in midfield.
Des Buckingham picked his first all-Indian starting XI for the Super Cup game against Churchill Brothers for their Group D opener. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh and Rahul Bheke lined up as the centre-back pairing for this game. They were flanked by Hardik Bhatt and Vignesh D. in the full-back positions to complete the defence. The Islanders midfield consisted of the prodigious Apuia Ralte, the ever-composed Rowllin Borges and the industrious Vinit Rai. Lallianzuala Chhangte started on the right wing in attack with the Islanders’ record goal-scorer Bipin Singh on the left and young Vikram Partap Singh leading the line to complete Mumbai City FC’s attack for this game.
Mumbai City FC started the game in typical fashion and got into their passing rhythm swiftly. They were making Churchill Brothers chase the ball from the get go, as they were controlling possession with ease.
The first chance of the game in the 3rd minute of the game. Bipin found Vinit on the left wing with a smart through ball after the Islanders’ number 16 had made his way forward. Vinit Rai then played a grounded ball towards the centre of the box hoping to find Vikram Partap Singh, but the ball was nicked just in front of him by a Churchill defender.
The next chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 4th minute of the game. Rowllin Borges took a corner from the right-wing and delivered a sumptuous ball towards Rahul Bheke. The Mumbai City captain connected well with the ball but his header was just off-target.
Churchill Brothers however, took the lead early on in the game in the 8th minute. Vignesh played a back pass to Phurba Lachenpa from outside the box. Phurba miscontrolled the ball and was stolen off him by Ansumana Kromah, who dribbled around a recovering Phurba and slotted the ball into an empty net to make it 1-0 in favour of Churchill Brothers.
Mumbai City FC looked to equalise swiftly and created the next chance of the game in the 15th minute. Rowllin Borges played a glorious long ball towards Chhangte who had made his way to the centre of the box. Chhangte controlled the ball expertly and tried lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper into the net but his shot landed on the roof of the net instead.
The next chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 22nd minute. Rowllin Borges played an accurate diagonal ball to Chhnagte on the right wing. He made space for himself to cross the ball and he duly delivered. The ball was headed towards Vikram in centre, who failed to get it under his spell due to some intense pressure by a Churchill Brothers defender.
The Islanders equalised in the 26th minute of the game. Rowllin Borges played a delicious curling ball towards the far post from a set piece near the halfway line. Mehtab Singh had peeled away from his marker and headed the ball into the goal at the far post to make it 1-1 as the Churchill Brothers keeper failed to punch the ball away.
The Red Machine were looking to congest the centre of the field to not allow Mumbai City FC a clear path on goal. But the Islanders were looking to utilise the space on the wings to put Churchill Brothers under pressure.
The next chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 30th minute of the game. Vignesh made his way forward on the left wing thanks to some dazzling skill by the left-back. He cut inside and lined up a shot but it was blocked by a defender after which the Islanders were awarded a corner kick.
Mumbai City FC created the next chance of the game in the 38th minute of the game. After Rowllin Borges put in a great ball into the box from a set-piece the ball was knocked loose into the box and was collected by Hardik on the left side. He played the ball to Vignesh who was right outside the box, the left-back played the ball into the danger zone at the first time of asking. His curling cross was headed towards goal by Bheke on the farpost, but his header cannoned off the crossbar.
The last chance of the first half came the way of the Islanders in the 43rd minute. A spectacular through ball by Vinit Rai found Chhangte, who found himself in space centrally. He ran towards the goal but the Churchill Brothers defence had rushed out to pressure the Islanders’ winger and nicked the ball off his foot inside the box as the move died down.
Soon after, the referee blew for half-time as the scores read 1-1 at the end of the first period. Churchill Brothers were looking to press and capitalise on the Islanders’ defensive lapses, whereas Des Buckingham’s side were constantly looking to score but their best chances came from set-pieces despite controlling the possession.
Mumbai City FC started the second half in similar fashion, as they were looking to score from the get go.
Churchill made a substitution before the start of the second half as Omoma came on for Jakhanov in their midfield.
The first chance of the second period came in the 48th minute of the game. Apuia played a great ball into space on the right-wing that was controlled by Chhangte. He tried finding Apuia with a return ball in the centre of the box but he mis-cued his shot and failed to get a clear connection on the ball as the chance went begging.
The next chance came in the 53rd minute for Churchill Brothers. A ball over the top behind the Islanders’ backline was controlled expertly by Martin Chaves, who carried the ball into the box. He tried getting his shot from a tight angle from the left side but it was comfortably held by Phurba, as the scores stayed at 1-1.
Despite dominating possession, Mumbai City were finding it hard to break down a resolute Churchill Brothers defence, who were making sure everyone was defending the goal.
Des Buckingham was forced into making his first change of the game in the 63rd minute of the game as Apuia picked up a knock due to a robust challenge by a Churchill player on the midfielder. Gurkirat came in for Apuia as the Islanders changed their shape as Chhangte took up the number 10 position.
Both teams looked dangerous every time they went forward but were struggling to find that finishing touch to take the lead.
In the 79th minute, Buckingham made his second change of the game as he brought off Bipin Singh and was replaced by young Ayush Chhikara. The English tactician was hoping an extra attacker will help his team take the lead in the game.
The game trudged on as Churchill looked content with the draw while Mumbai were desperately looking for the winner in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Mumbai City FC took the lead in added time at the end of the second-half in the 94th minute. Vikram Partap Singh’s trickery saw him fouled inside the box by Clement as a penalty was awarded to the Islanders. Chhangte stepped up to take the spot kick and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1 in favour of the Islanders.
The Islanders safely saw out the final moments of the game before the referee blew the full-time whistle to end a thrilling contest. The Islanders secure their first win of the Super Cup with a 2-1 victory over Churchill Brothers and with it, three very important points.
Mumbai City will take on NorthEast United in their next Group D game of the Super Cup on the 15th of April 2023 at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri with the game set to kick-off at 8:30pm IST.