Kerala Blasters, NorthEast United in goalless stalemate
NorthEast United coach Ricki Herbert congratulates his goalkeeper Rehenesh TP for keeping a clean sheet.
Kerala Blasters FC stay just outside the top four after playing out a goalless stalemate with NorthEast United FC in Kochi on Thursday night. The result leaves the Highlanders who are on 14 points, on the brink of elimination, while the fifth placed home side are tied on 16 points with fourth placed FC Pune City.
It was a cagey beginning to the match with both teams having equal spells on the ball. The home side however soon asserted their dominance with their greater hold over possession. Iain Hume was a major threat to the opposition defence as he bombed forward time and again with support from Milagres Gonsalves and Penn Orji. The former Canadian international striker even had the ball in the net but was flagged offside. The visitors began to get better as the game progressed but were unable to get that important goal. Felipe de Castro even had a long range shot saved by Sandip Nandy at the end of the half.
It was Kerala all the way in the second session as they pushed forward searching for that elusive goal. The home side managed to create a lot of chances but were not able to convert any. Stephen Pearson was guilty of missing an excellent chance when he skied a volley from a couple of yards out. Gonsalves also looked off the boil as the chances went abegging for David James' side. Nirmal Chhetri came closest to opening the scoring with a thunderous running header from a corner which crashed against the post.
Iain Hume (R) and Miguel Garcia shake hands after the game.
James Keene saw red in the 75th minute when he reacted to a bad tackle from substitute Michael Chopra by pushing him to the ground. Kerala took the opportunity to bomb forward with the one man advantage. Chopra also somehow managed to miss a couple of good chances that came his way. Rehenesh kept his side in the game with a very late save off a piledriver by substitute Andrew Barisic. In the end, both the teams were forced to share the spoils as neither could take the game by the scruff of the neck.
David James’ side must now beat Pune City at home on December 9 in their last outing and then hope for the best from other results. NorthEast United now have only a theoretical chance of going through provided several results go their way and they also beat Mumbai City FC at home on December 10.
Hero of the Match: Sandip Nandy (Kerala Blasters FC) (Watch here)
Swift Moment of the Match: Sandip Nandy
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Stephen Pearson (Kerala Blasters FC)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Airborlang Khongjee (NorthEast United FC)