Kerala Blasters play out stalemate with Mumbai City
Kerala Blasters FC and Mumbai City FC played out an engrossing 0-0 draw at a rainy Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Peter Reid will be the happier of the two managers, having kept another clean sheet in an away match, while David James will once again be left to ponder Kerala’s inability to convert dominant attacking play into goals.
It was an even first half, with both sides creating chances but failing to score. Kerala got off to a strong start, keeping possession of the ball for long periods as Stephen Pearson controlled the game in midfield. Sandesh Jinghan was once again the standout player for the hosts in defence, as he constantly broke up attacks and kept the dangerous Jan Štohanzl at bay. The closest either side came to scoring was early on, in the seventh minute, when Jinghan's brilliant early cross from the right was headed back into the box. Subrata Paul made a stunning double save, first from Milagres Gonsalves’ point-blank header and then from Penn Orji’s follow-up effort. Mumbai attacked David James' goal in patches but were unable to find the telling ball to unlock Kerala’s defence, as both sides went into the break level.
It was more of the same in the second period with neither team able to gain a strong foothold in the match. Kerala continued their dominance in possession as Mumbai were content playing on the counter. Mumbai came out of their shell towards the middle of the half, enjoying a dominant spell as they looked for the goal to notch up a priceless away win. They nearly broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, when Nicolas Anelka’s superb cross ultimately fell to Brazilian Tiago Ribeiro, who smashed his effort against the post. Kerala brought on Iain Hume to add energy and a creative spark to their attack, but ultimately, it was a second consecutive goalless draw for both sides.
A win for Mumbai City would have taken them to the top of the table, but they remain fourth. The continued defensive solidity will please Peter Reid, who will hope his attackers return to scoring form in their next game, against Goa at home on November 17. Kerala Blasters travel to the national capital for what promises to be a difficult away game against Delhi Dynamos FC on November 16.
Swift Moment of the Match: CS Sabeeth (Kerala Blasters)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Tiago Ribeiro (Mumbai City)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Lalrindika Ralte (Mumbai City)
Hero of the Match: CS Sabeeth