Kerala Blasters FC and Jamshedpur FC justified their high position on the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) points table after playing out a high-quality end-to-end encounter but couldn’t be separated after the match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa on Sunday ended in a 1-1 draw.
The game didn’t see a host of chances but those that were created were genuine ones. However, neither team could strike the decisive blow as the two strongest challengers to league leaders Mumbai City FC, as things stand, were forced to split the points.
Greg Stewart (14’) gave the Red Miners the lead with a stunning free-kick but Sahal Abdul Samad (27’) continued his red-hot form to equalise for the Blasters in the first half.
The Blasters began dominating the ball but it was Jamshedpur FC who looked more threatening on the break. Owen Coyle’s men should have broken through in the tenth minute when Peter Hartley fluffed his line after receiving a cross just outside the six-yard area in the tenth minute after a cleverly-worked move.
Four minutes later, Jamshedpur FC made their early pressure count thanks largely to Stewart’s brilliance as he caught the goalkeeper out with an inch-perfect free-kick that curled into the net beating the goalkeeper at the post he was expected to have covered.
The game got stretched after the opening goal with both teams trading blows but Jamshedpur FC carried the bigger threat thanks to their direct style play that caused the Blasters defense all sorts of problems.
But much against the run of play the Blasters equalized when Sahal poked home from close range after Rehenesh had parried a shot from Alvaro Vazquez in his path in the 27th minute. Although Sahal scored it, the goal was all Vazquez’s making as he opened up Jamshedpur FC with a clever turn and ran at the defense to create a space for the shot that eventually led to the equalizer.
The Blasters were the better team after the goal and appeared to have been denied a penalty in the 37th minute when a cross struck Laldinliana Rentlei’s hand. But the referee thought otherwise. The two teams went into the break level at 1-1 with good spells for either side in the first 45 minutes.
Kerala Blasters FC was unlucky not to take the lead in the 50th minute when Hartley let a ball slip under his feet allowing Vazquez to get onto the ball and chip the goalkeeper but the ball bounced out off the crossbar. The two teams enjoyed half-chances in the second half but neither could make it count. The best opportunity to win the match fell Jamshedpur FC’s way in the 84th minute when Ricky Lallawmawma did well to win the ball back and play in Ishan Pandita through on goal but the Indian striker couldn’t convert as his effort was saved by Prabhsukhan Singh Gill.
Both teams pushed hard for a winner in the dying minutes but the breakthrough didn’t come as the game ended with the spoils shared. The draw meant Jamshedpur FC stayed second while Kerala Blasters FC remained level on points with their opponents in the third spot. The Blasters next face FC Goa on Sunday while Jamshedpur FC’s next assignment is on January 6 against NorthEast United FC.