Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United play out a goalless draw in the Indian Super League game in Kochi and both teams stay alive in the race to semifinal spot.
With this draw NorthEast United now have just 14 points with only one game remaining and they must win the next game and hope for other results to go on their way to earn a semi-final spot. Kerala Blasters are on fifth position with 16 points and they also have to win their last game to enter semi-finals.
Kerala Blasters made seven changes from the previous game and NorthEast United made four changes. The last time NorthEast United faced Kerala Blasters, Koke scored the match winner as they win 1-0.
Kerala Blasters had some early chances as Iain Hume puts a good ball into the box but its put out by the defender for a corner.Minutes later Jamie McAllister plays in a brilliant through ball for Stephen Pearson who puts in a cross to find Iain Hume but his header does not trouble the keeper.
Kerala looked threatening at the beginning of the game and some good wing play was on display and it nearly broke the deadock. A good cross from left wing nearly found the head of Keene in the far post and the striker acknowledges the attempt. Keene was in a one-on-one situation with the NorthEast keeper Rehenesh, but he comes out and makes a good last ditch challenge to clear the ball. Kerala get the ball back later and made a counter-attack through Hengbert who ran with the ball but he is brought down by Len Doungel who got the first yellow card of the game.
NorthEast tried to keep the possession and they had the control of the ball and are in complete command but couldn’t penetrate into the box to make a clear-cut attempt at goal. NorthEast win a corner later, the corner is swung into the box and the header is cleared off the line by Mehtab Hossain but it bounces back and Nandy does well to clear the ball off the goal.
NorthEast United were coming back into the game on their own as the game progressed and are at ease in possession and Kerala looked frustrated.Keene looked threatening with the ball as he displays some fancy footwork and is tackled eventually.
Kerala win a free kick and James McAllister takes it wonderfully and it looked like it was going in but the ball goes to the roof of the net and it was just a couple of inches away . Pearson made attempt and again but it’s a long way out on the left flank.He cuts in and lets the ball fly and it is just a couple of inches wide of the left post. Felipe makes a great attempt just before half time, but the shot is saved superbly by Sandip Nandy with the ball certainly travelling into the goal.
It was an excellent first half of football. Kerala Blasters started off brightly but couldn’t convert their chances. NorthEast United have come back well into the game and ended the half brightly.
NorthEast took the early advantage in the second half with the ball at the feet and the Kerala defence had to scramble to clear the ball out of defence. Kerala start an attack and get a corner as Orji puts in a lovely delivery into the box to find Hume but the ball deflects off his head and earn another corner. This time McAllister puts in a cross but the ball falls to Mtonga who clears. Later Pearson wasted a golden chance for the home side as he gets a delightful ball into the box and the the left foot shot is high and wide and a great chance went begging. Kerala looked rather clinical in starting their attacks and were relentless in attack and put NorthEast defence are under constant threat.
James Keene is sent off in 75th minute after reacting violently to a bad challenge from Michael Chopra. Michael Chopra puts in tackle from behind on James Keene and the striker goes up to Chopra and shoves him in his face.
Kerala had continuous pressing and created chances and constantly put the pressure on NorthEast. Kerala had several chances to score but messed up almost every opportunity and NorthEast United got their chances towards the end but couldn’t finish any.
Man Of The Match: Sandip Nandy
Picture Courtesy: Indian Super League