Mumbai held to a goalless draw by Kerala
Kochi, November 12
Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC played out a 0-0 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi on Wednesday evening. Resolute defending from both teams prevented any real clear-cut chances, and the match was notable for a series of miss-passes from either side.
David James stuck to his word and made as many as five changes to his starting eleven as he brought in Colin Falvey, Saumik Dey, Godwin Franco, Raphael Romey and Milagres Gonsalves.
Meanwhile, Andre Moritz who was suffering from a hamstring strain was left out while Nadong Bhutia was benched with Tiago Ribeiro and Lalrindika Ralte making it into the first team.
The home team applied pressure right from start and should have taken the lead as early as in the fifth minute. Stephen Pearson found Penn Orji from a free-kick and the Nigerian crossed for Sandesh Jhingan whose header from inside the box went wide.
The very next minute saw Milagres being set free on the left and just as the Goan striker prepared to shoot, Pavel Cmovs came across to make an important challenge to avert the danger.
Sabeeth’s knock down for Milagres saw Subrata Paul make a point blank save to deny the former Salgaocar striker from six-yards out.
It was David James’ side which dominated the possession and kept moving forward in numbers as Mumbai continued to have more men behind the ball. Interestingly, Nicolas Anelka was playing deep in the midfield and he ventured forward just once in the half whereby, after dribbling past three defenders before his shot went for a corner.
Just before the end of the half, Sabeeth chested down Jhingan’s cross and Milagres’ effort from inside the box was blocked by the Mumbai defense.
After the break, Kerala continued to see more of the ball and the first chance came in the 53rd minute. A cross from the right saw Milagres head it for Sabeeth whose header was picked up by Orji. The former East Bengal medio blazed his shot over the bar, much to the disappointment of the assembled home fans.
Lalrindika Ralte who was guilty of gifting the ball to the opposition on multiple occasions was substituted in the 55th minute with Sushil Singh being brought in.
Subrata Paul flapped at a cross from Sabeeth aimlessly with Milagres trying to emulate a ‘Hand of God’. However, Manuel Freidrich eventually cleared the danger for the visitors.
Mumbai’s first chance of the game came only in the 68th minute when Stohanzl’s cross from the right saw Anelka’s glancing header under pressure from Jhingan go wide.
Kerala enjoyed a lot of possession but missed the quality to find the final ball to cut through the Mumbai defense.
The visitors came close with a couple of chances. First, Anelka’s cross to the far post is headed by Subhash and is cleared of the line by Saumik Dey before Tiago’s volleyed effort came off the post and cleared for a corner. From the ensuing flag-kick, Freidrich’s header went straight to James.
Neither team could muster any opening in the final 15 minutes or so as the score line remained 0-0.
Kerala Blasters remain unbeaten on home soil but only have nine points from their eight outings. Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC have 11 points from eight matches so far.