Kerala Blasters hold Jamshedpur FC 0-0 in frustrating stalemate
Kochi: Kerala Blasters were held to another frustrating goalless stalemate by visitors Jamshedpur FC in their second-round Indian Super League game at the JLN Stadium in Kochi on Friday.
Jackichand Singh replaced Milan Singh in what was the only change for Kerala Blasters. Dimitar Berbatov led the line whereas Wes Brown was able to claim a spot on the bench following timely recovery from a knock he picked up during a practice game.
Former Kerala Blasters forward Kervens Belfort took the place of Sameehg Doutie in the Jamshedpur FC lineup. Kerala-born defender Anas Edathodika was paired alongside Tiri in the centre of defence with Trinidad and Azuka tasked with delivering the goods in front of goal.
The home side dominated possession right from the kick-off and had a golden opportunity early on when Iain Hume's cross from the right found an unmarked CK Vineeth inside the box but the former Bengaluru FC forward fluffed his header and the ball over the bar with only the keeper to beat.
Dimitar Berbatov was next in line to get the crowd going, as the Bulgarian's attempted volley from inside the box was saved by a desperate Subrata Paul.
The visitors had their first major opening at the half-hour mark when Emerson 'Memo' Moura struck a free-kick from outside the box but Paul Rachubka pulled off two good saves one after the other - one to keep out Memo and then another one as Jerry Mawihmingthanga tried to tap in the rebound.
The second half began in a similar manner to the first, with the home side patiently passing and prodding Jamshedpur's backline. Five minutes into the second half, Jackichand Singh's delicious first touch allowed him to create room for a shot from outside the box but the Indian international's shot was wide and harmless to Subrata Paul.
Dimitar Berbatov, who was allowed to roam around and pick out his passes early on in the game, was on the end of multiple late challenges after the restart, with Mehtab Hossain and Farukh Chowdhury picking up yellow cards on two different occasions.
Paul Rachubka's miskick had Farukh Chowdhury excited for a few seconds but his volley was at a safe height for the Manchester United academy graduate to block. At the other end, Courage Pekuson's half-finessed shot beat not only the goalkeeper but also the post.
Kervens Belfort's header off Trindade Goncalves cross from the right in the 90th minute had the whole stadium in silence but Rachubka was on his heels yet again to prevent a last-minute heartbreak.
Despite their dominance on the ball, the home side were unable to convert their chances and as the final whistle blew, Steve Coppell wrapped up his return to Kochi in style.