The spoils are shared between Kerala Blasters FC and North East United on Match 7 of the Hero ISL as the game ended in a 2-2 draw under the lights of the GMC Stadium, Bambolim.
It was an emotionally painful last few days for the football universe with the demise of one of the greatest players this beautiful game has seen. As we all mourn the legend, The Men in Yellow carried the grief upon their sleeve with a strip of black on our home shirt to pay respects.The boys returned dejected last week from the green grass of Bambolim as we endured a narrow loss against ATKMB in the season opener. But the spirits are high and what’s done is done, we move on from here. As Kibu rightly said, “In football we have to be prepared for every result.” The Lights are ON and the players walked out of the tunnel into a new day and a new battle yesterday this time with the Highlanders
The game kicked off after a minute silence in remembrance of the legend Diego Armando Maradona.Kibu stacked the team in a 4-3-3 formation with 4 changes in the staring XI. As for Nishu Kumar and Rohit Kumar it was a remarkable day as they debuted for the Blasters and yes they looked dashing in that yellow shirt. It was nothing short of a dream start for us as our Capitano found the net in the 5th minute of the game.An inch perfect ball from Seityasen to the danger end of the opposition box to find Sergio who deftly headed in the ball to the corner bin providing us the best possible start we could hope for. The goal from Sergio is a reassurance to the boss’ call to give Cido an advance position. The game restarts after the customary goal celebrations, intent was clear from the boys as they were dictated the play in the middle. Vicente dropped deep back in the defence allowing Costa and Kone to go wide. It was clear from the pitch that the visitors were relying on the counter attack and the boss plugged it without committing our wingers Nishu and Jessel upfront. In this set up Rohit Kumar got a free role to make in those runs and deliver balls forward and as expected that is what he did throughout. Long diagonal passes were pouring from the boots of Rohit and Nishu for hooper to run into, making their debut a one to remember. With a lead of one goal we were not ready to settle, the boys go all in and chances came one after another. A nice link up from Sergio and Hooper in the 22nd minute of the game gave us a close chance for a goal but was unluckily missed. As i the first half proceeded interestingly, the referee flaunted an unexpected Yellow card for Rohit Kumar leaving everyone clueless for a moment. With the first half closing in to an end, we were still searching for that second goal relentlessly. Costa’s double shot onto target was cleared away desperately by the Northeast defence. The weak clearance from the defence line of the visitors provided a goal inviting ball for Putiea on the face of the opposition goal, which however wrongly intercepted by Pradhan forcing the referee to call out for a foul, assuring a penalty in favour of the Blasters. None other than Hooper came in and took the penalty redeeming himself of the earlier miss. Hooper is a Happy Man and we are too. It’s half time as the Men in Yellow lead by two goals.
The visitors came out for the second half with some tactical changes in the playing XI by replacing Pradhan and bring in Britto. In what we call a game of two halves it started off in a way we never wished for. A goal came in the 51st minute of the game for the visitors from a set piece corner and Appiah netted it in his second chance in front of the goal. The momentum rightly shifted in favour of the visitors after the first goal. They controlled the pace of the game as they were desperate to get an equaliser. Attacks came in from both wings and it was rightly addressed by the Coach who brought in fresh legs to nip it. Prashant and Jeakson came in for Putiea and Rohit Kumar with an intent to take control of the game. Seiytasen switched to left wing and Prashant took control of the right wing and thus providing an extra layer of protection. Northeast looked to play a high tempo game in an urge to get that equaliser, which we resisted with an intent to take all the three points home. Individual performances elated in the second half for the visitors and the goal from Appiah provided them the much needed motivation. Their constant pressure worked in their favour as the visitors were awarded a penalty for the foul inside the box by Jessel. Appiah took the penalty and hit the woodwork denying himself the chance to complete his brace and rather featuring himself in the first penalty miss of Hero ISL season 7. As the clock was about to hit the 90 min mark a long cross from Gurjinder found Sylla in what may be seen as an offside position. Sylla chested it down and netted it for a goal.
Two great halves of the game, each accounted by the Home and the Away side, spoils are shared as we go back to the dressing room. The coaching staffs have their notes full as we evaluate the positives and the negatives. We learn from each fall, We recoup and We go again.