David Booth gambled on his I-League return with Mahindra United and it stopped reigning champions Churchill Brothers on Thursday.
Booth’s bold decision to field the inexperienced Kalialaudeen Nisthar instead of regular central defender Lamine Tambe worked as the 21-year-old combined well with D Ravanan to blunt a Churchill’s frontline in the opener of the third ONGC I-League at the Cooperage ground on Thursday.
Mahindra created the better chances all through the match, they were unable to convert them. This despite Churchill playing with 10 men from the 65th minute after goalkeeper Arindam Bhattcharya was expelled for handling the ball outside the penalty area.
Following Muritala Ali's precise through pass, Md Rafi unchallenged raced towards goal only to be denied by Bhattacharya who charged out of his area and lunged at the striker's feet. Referee Pratap Singh promptly showed the red card. Lalith Thapa replaced him under the bar.
The Mumbai champions forged ahead when import Svetozar Mijin scored in the 26th minute. However, Mahindra’s joy was shortlived as Dan Ito scored, the Japanese scoring with a spectacular first-time effort following an assist from Naoba Singh.
Mahindra United next host East Bengal on Wednesday and Churchill Brothers host Viva Kerala on Tuesday.