ISL: Kerala Blasters dish out a goalless draw against NorthEast United
Kerala Blasters played out a goalless draw against NorthEast United in Match 49 of the Indian Super League. In an evenly contested tie, both teams share the spoils of this tightly-fought battle. With this draw Kerala Blasters move up to fifteen points while NorthEast United amount to thirteen points. Although the match was evenly contested it showcased glimpses of pure genius by both the sides.
Kerala Blasters lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with the attacking duo of Milagres Gonsalves and Iain Hume leading the line. Penn Orji made his comeback into the team and was deployed in the attacking trident, alongside Stephen Pearson and Forcada. Mehtab Hossain was also brought back into the side by David James. Although Kerala Blasters flaunted a resolute defense, they missed a notable name in Sandesh Jhingan.
NorthEast United continued with their robust and dynamic flair of attacking football. The Highlanders lined up in a 3-5-2 formation. Joan Capdevila, Massamba Sambou and Miguel Garcia constituted the back four while the attack was led by the trio of Seminlen Doungel, James Keene and Durga Boro. Robin Gurung and Aibor Khongjee started higher up the park and were utilized as wingers.
Kerala Blasters were on the front foot from the start
Kerala Blasters attacked NorthEast United in the opening minutes of the first half. Iain Hume missed a half chance to put the home side forward. Running high on crowd support Kerala Blasters continued to attack the visitors, NorthEast United. Slowly and gradually the visitors developed their pedigree into the game and reverted back with quick counter attacks.
Although both sides failed to take advantage of the chances created, defences of both sides were regularly tested. Kerala Blasters surged back with attacks in the dying embers of the first half and Penn Orji scooped a ball way off target. NorthEast United had the final say in the first forty-five minutes as James Keene laid a brilliant ball to Felipe who forced, Indian veteran Sandip Nandy into making a great save.
The second half began exactly like the first. Kerala Blasters attacked from the kick off and in the 51st minute, Milagres Gonsalves was brought down in the opposing penalty region, but the referee failed to heed his cries of the home side for a penalty. Minutes later Forcada put in a great ball for Stephen Pearson, who’s shot was way off target and did not trouble NorthEast United’s shot-stopper T.P Rehenesh.
In an evenly contested tie, the game opened up in the last 20 minutes of play. NorthEast United were playing swift and crisp football, threatening Kerala’s defence, but were unable to find a way through. Kerala Blasters constantly tested NorthEast United’s defence and even hit the woodwork once.
James Keene was sent off by the referee in the 75th minute when Michael Chopra put in a bad tackle from behind on James Keene and the striker reacted to it.
However despite being a man down for the last fifteen minutes, NorthEast United held on for a point. The match ended goal-less and both sides shared the spoils of battle.