A victory for Mumbai City FC, would have put them on the top of the table, while a Kerala Blasters victory would have earned them a position in the top three; while they both clashed in the second round of matches in the Hero Indian Super League. While it was a tale of contrasting halves, the stalemate at Kochi meant that the table remained unchanged at the end of the game.
Mumbai City FC started the game on the back foot by sitting deep in their own half, and Kerala Blasters made the most of it by keeping early possession and pressing the opposition, with Stephen Pearson in the centre of action. His understanding of the game as seen in earlier matches, allowed him to let Gonsalves and Orji make telling attacks on Mumbai City’s goal. With the early pressure a clear cut opportunity came however Subrata Paul’s heroics and a missed chance by Orji kept the stalemate maintained.
While the rain was bucketing down at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, Mumbai City’s Star striker Nicolas Anelka was playing much deeper than usual. Probably an indicator, that Mumbai City’s gaffer Peter Reid, wanted to keep fourth consecutive clean sheet and attack later on as the game opened up. First meaningful attack came from Mumbai City in the eighteenth minute with Anelka passing the ball wide left to Lalrindika however a loose pass allowed Kerala Blasters to get away scot-free.
It was evident by the half hour mark, as the Mumbai City FC’s backline was next to their penalty area, that the long balls from Kerala will not be helpful and the home team had to build from the midfield to penetrate Peter Reid’s solid defense backline. With deep into the second half the attacking index was in clear favor of the hosts (88% – 12%) indicating the difference in approach the two teams had.
The first half really went to the Kerala Blasters, while the Mumbai City FC kept a solid backline. The massive crowd at the stadium was hoping for a second half full of goals, which unfortunately both the teams had found difficult to come by in the first seasons of ISL.
The second half started in contrasting style with Mumbai City on the ball from the beginning with Anelka & Co. pulling the strings effectively. After the initial few minutes of the second half the possession was divided equally between the two, the Kerala Blasters however were quick to close down the Mumbai City FC players and hence did not allow them much time on the ball. A well worked move by Kerala Blaster came to Orji, however he snapped too hard on the ball and missed the target by a glaring margin.
The drums were beating louder than ever in the stadium, urging the home team to turn the magic on the field and the stadium erupted as Ian Hume came off the bench, in an attempt to infuse some fresh legs and break the deadlock. As the two teams approached the seventy minute mark, there were more open spaces to operate in, with continuous attacks at both ends; an opening goal was in sight for either of the teams. A deep cross from Anelka and Mumbai City FC came close to scoring the first goal of the match with a thundering volley from Tiago hitting the post. With every passing minute Mumbai City FC definitely was looking like a side with more venom as Peter Reid introduced a like for like attacking substitution with Nadong Bhutia replacing Subhash Singh.
In the end it was an entertaining match with the thick of the action coming in the second half from both the sides. Mumbai City FC’s defensive mindset form the first half was given way from the first kick of the second half, on the other hand Kerala Blasters would be ruing the fact that they couldn’t open the scoring early in the first half as that would have definitely changed the dynamics of the game. Moving on from the goalless draw, Kerala Blasters would now head to the national capital to take on Delhi Dynamos while Mumbai City FC will play host to FC Goa in their next encounter at the Hero Indian Super League.
Image Courtesey: IBN Live