Match Report: Kerala Blasters FC 1-1 Mumbai City FC
A second goal in as many games for Balwant Singh won the Islanders our first points away from home this season against Kerala Blasters after Mark Sifneos had given the home side an early lead in the encounter.
It was an encouraging start for the home side as they started the game on a high pace. The first chance of the game came from Pekuson but his shot from outside the box was off target. A minute later, Lucian Goian made a crucial block to deny Jhingan an effort on goal. Davinder Singh, starting his first game for the Islanders failed to keep his composure & was shown a yellow for his second foul on the night.
The pressure from Kerala Blasters paid off in the 14th minute as a weighted pass from Berbatov found Rino Anto on the right flank & his cross was met well by Mark Sifenos to give them the lead. The Islanders responded well almost immediately with Balwant Singh getting a chance of his own, Achille Emana's cross from a free-kick found Balwant but he couldn't get his shot on the target.
Emana was involved once again, this time playing a through ball for Everton Santos that left the Kerala Blasters defence open before Jhangan cleared the danger away. From our next attack, Lucian Goian won the ball from a tackle on the left flank & sent a good looking cross that Everton Santos headed away from Rafa Jorda & the goal.
Custodian, Amrinder Singh was called into action after CK Vineeth controlled a Jackichand Singh cross in the box & turned to find the right corner but Amrinder made a fantastic save to push it away for a corner. At the other end, Ruidas delivered a looping cross into the box & Rafa Jorda connected the header well but there wasn't enough power to beat Rachubka.
Berbatov's long ball in the 42nd minute found the run of Jackichand Singh who managed to beat the offside trap & was through on goal but his shot didn't trouble Amrinder in goal. Just on the stroke of the half-time, Berbatov saw his effort saved by Amrinder to keep the Islanders down by just the solitary goal from Sifneos.
The second half started with a lucky escape for the Islanders as a miscommunication between Goian & Amrinder could have led to the second goal but nothing came for it. The Islanders were pushing hard for an equaliser, Goian won the ball in his own half & ran across the field of the goal to find Balwant who did well to win a corner. Emana took a couple of good corners but the defence cleared their way away.
Kerala Blasters had another opportunity to double the lead as Lalruatthara found Vineeth in the box but his shot went well over the goal. The Islanders came close to equalizing in the 56th minute with Emana flicking the ball to Everton Santos who managed to get past the defender with some luck before firing a left footed shot that was saved well by Rachubka & crashed onto the woodwork.
The home side kept pushing men ahead to seal the game but the defence was firm, making important tackles & clearances. In the 73rd minute, Balwant Singh had a chance to cross the ball to Rafa Jorda but he took a shot himself that went into the stands. However, just four minutes later, the Islanders were back on level terms as Everton Santos made a good run on the right flank & crossed towards the near post where Balwant Singh got ahead of his marker to score his 2nd goal of the season.
With that goal, the game opened up as both sides looked for the winning goal. First, substitute Siam Hanghal saw his effort go off target & Balwant Singh fired over the goal after being setup by a brilliant back heel from Everton Santos in the box. There were yellow cards flowing with Vineeth, Pritam Singh & Ruidas all being cautioned for fouls.
In the 90th minute, Vineeth was given his marching orders by the referee for a second yellow card for simulation in the box. 4 minutes were added into the game, Kerala had a few more chances from a couple of corners but the Islanders' defence stood strong to win a crucial away point.
A result that will surely boost the Islanders morale after being down by a goal & getting a point back home. We play Chennaiyin FC on 10th December at the Mumbai Football Arena.