Talking Point: Can SC East Bengal maintain their recent unbeaten run against Kerala?

Currently 9th on the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 standings, SC East Bengal will hope to get the better of 10th-placed Kerala Blasters FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday. The club from Kolkata are on an unbeaten run of five games, with three draws and two wins. Playing against a side that has conceded 19 goals this season, Robbie Fowler’s team will hope for a positive outcome. However, Kerala Blasters will be no pushovers, having stunned Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC of late. Here, we look at some factors that could influence the outcome of the match in a big way.

January signings have improved SC East Bengal

After an underwhelming start to life in the Hero ISL, SC East Bengal have showed signs of improvement of late, particularly after the signings of Bright Enobakhare, Ankit Mukherjee and Raju Gaikwad. Since their arrival, the team has looked more balanced and can now challenge for a semi-final spot. While Bright has scored twice for SC East Bengal, Ankit has been a revelation at right wing-back. Raju too has started linking up well with Daniel Fox and Scott Neville. He played a big part in their second clean sheet of the season against Bengaluru FC in their last game.

Jordan Murray has stepped up at the right time

Jordan Murray has scored three goals in Kerala Blasters’ last two matches and his total tally for the season stands at five goals. Murray also bagged an assist when his cross was met by Gary Hooper to score Kerala Blasters’ second goal against Odisha FC, and his contribution could be key to his team’s chances on Friday. A hard-working forward with a lot of pace to burn, Murray has 10 shots on target with a shot accuracy of 55.55% for Kibu Vicuna’s team. The Australian also forced TP Rehenesh, who has been in fine form this season, into a mistake to

score what eventually proved the winning goal against Jamshedpur in Kerala’s last game.

Both sides have been defensively leaky in the second half of matches

SC East Bengal have conceded 12 of their 15 goals in the second half of games, while Kerala Blasters have conceded 11 of their 19 goals in the second period. In the fixture between SC East Bengal and Kerala Blasters earlier this season, a late equaliser headed in by Jeakson Singh had earned a point for the Kochi-based club. With both sides possessing leaky defences, fans can expect quite a few goals in Friday’s battle of equals.

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