Match Report: Mumbai City FC 0-1 Kerala Blasters FC
A solitary goal from Iain Hume midway through the first half gave Kerala Blasters FC their 2nd consecutive win under David James. The referee Pranjal Banerjee made a big call to decide the outcome of the game as a quick free-kick by Courage Pekuson put Hume through on goal with the entire team waiting for his whistle. Replays suggested that the freekick was taken yards away from where the foul was committed.
Going into the first home game of 2018, it was a packed house with both set of fans coming in numbers to back their teams. The game started off slowly with the visitors seeing more of the ball in the early stages of the game. Achille Emana & Balwant Singh combined well for a one-two on the edge of the box but Jhingan was there to make an interception.
At the other end, Iain Hume’s long ball found Mark Sifneos but Ruidas made ground to put him under pressure & clear the danger away. In the 16th minute, Sanju Pradhan put in a superb cross over the defence that was met by the head of a diving Balwant Singh as his headed effort went just wide off the goal.
A couple of minutes later, Ruidas’ corner fell to Gerson Vieira in the box but his left-footed shot was off target. The Islanders were putting KBFC under pressure but weren’t taking their chances well. Iain Hume opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after the visitors won a free-kick in the attacking half & Pekuson took it quickly with Hume making no mistake in his finish. The Mumbai City FC players were left furious with the decision as the players were waiting for the referee’s whistle.
The Islanders had to regroup in search of an equalizer & Emana led the responsibilities. He tried his luck from distance but it flew into the stands. KBFC were pushing for the 2nd goal in the 40th minute with Lalruatthara finding Sifneos after a mistake from Davinder Singh but the right-back made amends & intercepted the ball. There weren’t any big chances post this with the visitors going into the break by a one goal margin.
The second half began with CK Vineeth replacing Mark Sifneos for KBFC. Two minutes into the second half, Balwant Singh had a glorious opportunity to equalize for the Islanders. Rino Anto’s clearance fell to the striker who took a little too much time before shooting the ball but it was headed away by Lalruatthara on the line.
Achille Emana put the ball into the back of the net in the 50th minute but the linesman ruled it out for offside under debatable circumstances. KBFC were forced into a change after Rino Anto was stretchered off due to an injury & Nemanja Lakic-Pesic came to replace him. That didn’t stop the Islanders as they kept pushing in numbers to keep KBFC under pressure with the count for crosses & corners increasing.
18-year old Pranjal Bhumij was involved in the game as he replaced Abinash Ruidas in an attacking change with 30 mins of the game remaining. A counter-attack from KBFC in the 64th minute saw Pekuson & Vineeth in a two on one situation but the former blasted his shot way off target & it was a let off for the Islanders.
Goian bought down Vineeth on the edge of the box as Amrinder Singh was called into action with Hume hitting the resulting free-kick low to the keeper’s left which he kept out. Leo Costa replaced Lucian Goian for the home side with Siam Hanghal coming on for Milan Singh. The Brazilian was unlucky to not be on the score sheet in the third minute of stoppage time, as he volleyed his effort onto the woodwork after the ball fell to him via a deflection off Balwant Singh. It was tight game but the Islanders failed to convert their pressure into chances & most importantly – goals which meant that KBFC won their second successive game on the trot.