KOCHI: The scent of victory still evades Kerala Blasters. They staged a fightback to earn a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC, but questions still remain. After recent performances, attendance count was considerably low. However, they began by pressing Jamshedpur into their own half. James made an interesting tweaking to his XI. The coach tried this against Chennaiyin with Sandesh Jhingan as a substitute. Jhingan started this game on the right.
The decision brought out a new side of him. He used the flanks well and the centre-back who is often heavy-legged, showed surprising nimbleness. His crossing was also impressive. Slavisa Stojanovic was picked ahead of the lively Matej Poplatnik. In the early minutes, the team had two chances in the six-yard box which weren’t taken.
The first fell to Sahal Abdul Samad who hit the crossbar. Seiminlen Doungel missed from a similar distance. Led by captain and skipper Tiri, Jamshedpur players made a human wall on the goal line. The visitors favoured a defensive approach. The likes of Stojanovic and Holicharan Narzary took shots but lacked the cutting edge.
Then Kerala were undone by a contentious refereeing decision. Dheeraj Singh appeared to bring down Tim Cahill outside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Carlos Calvo powered the ball in. James decided to put all his cards on the table and the likes of Poplatnik and CK Vineeth joined the action. Jamshedpur had only one thing in mind: clear everything.
But a lapse in concentration allowed Doungel to fire in the equalizer. Jamshedpur almost nicked a winner in the dying seconds when Mario Blasco drew a spectacular save from Dheeraj Singh. James recently talked about wanting to make one or two signings in the transfer window. A forward should certainly be on the list.