Kerala Blasters FC stole a point against SC East Bengal in the 35th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season (ISL), at the GMC Bambolim Stadium in Goa. SC East Bengal led until the last minute of stoppage time with a 1-0 scoreline, but Jeakson Singh got his team a point with a brilliant header.
SC East Bengal looked far more impressive in the first half than their previous matches. The inclusions of Danny Fox and Bikash Jairu made the defense stronger while the trio of Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, and Mohammad Rafique stole the show. The latter two were involved in SC East Bengal’s goal as Maghoma’s cross found Rafique for a shot. However, Bakary Kone kicked the ball into the back of the net in a bid to clear it.
SC East Bengal had several chances to score their goal but they weren’t clinical. This played into the hands of Kerala Blasters FC who kept hunting for an equalizer after making a number of substitutions at half-time. It took a Sahal Abdul Samad cross in the fifth minute of stoppage time for Kerala Blasters FC’s equalizer. Jeakson Singh rose high to head the ball past Debjit Majumder.
Here are four things we learned from this fixture:
#4 Kerala Blasters FC’s defense was too open
Kerala Blasters FC’s defense was too open against SC East Bengal and particularly the duo of Jacques Maghoma and Anthony Pilkington. Even though Costa Nhamoinesu returned to form a full-strength backline, SC East Bengal broke them down too often with through balls.
First, Jacques Maghoma curled a ball around Jessel Carneiro to set up the first goal. A few minutes later, Maghoma combined with Anthony Pilkington to force a save from Albino Gomes.
Even Mohammad Rafique constantly troubled the left-back Jessel Carneiro with intelligent movement and crosses. Towards the end of the first half, Pilkington set up Matti Steinman for a very good opportunity to shootbut the move did not yield success.
Nishu Kumar and Carneiro, in particular, weren’t strong enough against Maghoma and Rafique. Nishu lost the ball as many as 24 times.
#3 SC East Bengal looked far more organized than before
Even before the season began, it was known that SC East Bengal had assembled a squad that had too many players in too few positions. As a result, Robbie Fowler was playing a lot of players in positions that they were totally unaccustomed to previously. Against Kerala Blasters, Fowler had Anthony Pilkington as his farthest player while Jacques Maghoma played on the left wing.
Even Mohammad Rafique and Sehnaj Singh played in more familiar positions as the right-sided midfielder and the defensive midfielder respectively. This meant that SC East Bengal looked far more organized and also created far more chances when compared to the previous games.
#2 Substitutions earn a point for Kibu Vicuna’s Kerala Blasters FC
SC East Bengal were definitely the better side in the first half but the scenario completely changed in the remaining 45 minutes. In a rare situation, Kibu Vicuna made three changes as Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, and Jordan Murray came in with the side trailing 0-1.
The young midfielder Jeakson, in particular, looked really good as he made some neat passes to make Kerala Blasters’ transitions quicker. Meanwhile, Murray also looked lively as the striker was denied a goal by Debjit Majumder’s brilliant save. After returning from injury, Sahal didn’t create a lot but he came up with a lovely cross for Jeakson Singh’s equalizer towards the end of the match.
#1 Goalkeepers stand out in the stalemate
Both SC East Bengal and Kerala Blasters FC would be gutted that they couldn’t take three points from this match. However, Kerala Blasters FC would be relieved with stealing a point in the final moments of the game.
They would do well to thank Albino Gomes as he came up with a fantastic save off Jacques Maghoma’s shot in the 87th minute. Albino also came up with a stunning save from young Haobam Singh’s long-range shot in the first half.
His counterpart, Debjit Majumder also kept SC East Bengal’s lead alive for a long time including an unbelievable save in the 71st minute. Danny Fox made an early clearance but the ball fell to Sahal Abdul Samad and he headed it to Jordan Murray. The Australian took a fine snap-shot but Majumder came up with a cracking stop despite being in an uncomfortable situation.Published 21 Dec 2020, 00:21 IST