Fall at the last hurdle
The Blasters fought their heart out on Friday at the Tilak Maidan against the Red and Golds, however, the spoils were shared among the two sides as a goal in injury time by the home side denied us the three points.
The Men in Yellow was coming from a resolute performance against Jamshedpur FC after a rough patch in the campaign, akin to that, SC East Bengal also turned the tides in their favor and was flying high. The stage was set for a high octane battle as both sides make a virtue of necessity as those three points were paramount.
Kibu fielded an almost similar starting lineup as of the game against JFC, with just one change as Nishu Kumar came back to the Starting XI. The Coach opted a 4-4-1-1 formation with Facundo playing on the left and Sahal owning the right which seems to be working really well for the team. The home side also maintained a consistent line up as Robbie Fowler fielded his team in a 3-4-1-2 system.
The intent was very clear as both the team were pressing high and wanted to score the first goal to get that psychological advantage and control the game. The Blasters were pressing the ball continuously and it did pay its dividends as chances were coming in one after other. In this system the front four press the ball relentlessly with Jeakson or Vicente joining the party occasionally. Vicente was given the freedom to bomb forward and help the pressing while Jeakson sat back and helped the defense, at times he was seen operating in between the center backs. It was a refreshing style of play from the Men In Yellow as opposing to the possession-based play Kibu’s men were playing to which one might call a pragmatic approach. Sahal, Facundo, and Murray who are critical pieces for this system were pressing for the ball which allows us to counter. Sahal’s work rate is such that one can only say “Heavens to Betsy” witnessing him owning the right. Eventually, good opportunities came for Murray in the first half. Set Pieces are always our X factor, however, we could not capitalize on those against the Red and Golds.
Playing on the counter means the defensive unit has to work like a well-oiled engine where each cog drives the others to make the whole unit a fort. This defensive line is the best for Kibu as everyone is mutually facilitating. Nishu and Jessel formed a good understanding as one sits back and defends the fort as one makes that overlapping runs. Apart from that Jeakson works as a screener giving Vicente all the freedom to get involved in the set-piece routines.
In the second half, Maghoma shifted to the right and Jessel negated the threat by running toe to toe with him. Albino Gomes has been improving ever so well. Our first goal came from a long kick from Albino which found Murray, which he managed to guide into the net. Kibu wanted his players to sit back and react to the football the opponents were playing. It was working really well until the coach was forced to make a substitution for Jessel who was struggling with a knock, due to which the defense had to shuffle a lot. Nishu moved to the left while Sandeep occupied the right. Juande made his first appearance off the bench and played alongside Costa in the center of defense, which suddenly looked like a new unit. Defending those relentless attacks had become tedious and a lousy clearance in the last minute of the injury time cost us a sure win. The home team made full use of the corner and scored the equalizer in the dying seconds of the game. Within a blink of an eye the Fort was breached, Hearts Brocken, Hopes Shattered. This draw hurt us and it feels like a loss as we fall at the last hurdle.
We are gutted to not see through the game but it happens in football and we go again, that is what we are here to do, as the great Vince Lombardi once said: “The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising against after you fail.”