KOCHI: It was a game that was going according to the script for Kerala Blasters until Delhi Dynamos decided to rewrite it. The league is getting notorious for late, game-changing goals and David James’ team would be hating all the ‘latecomers’ who are nicking points from under their nose.A 1-1 draw is not the worst result for the Blasters as they now sit second on the table. Local boy CK Vineeth had given the fans a lot to cheer about until a jaded Andrija Kaluderovic helped Delhi take something back from their long journey.
Delhi Dynamos showed sheer power of adrenaline, despite the punishment their players are put through by an unforgiving fixture. Their assistant coach Mridul Banerjee had chosen not to question this ahead of the game even though the cramped schedule is something that might haunt teams and the players. Delhi were playing their second game in four days. In fact, they have to play four games in 10 days.
The Kerala team stuck to their philosophy of ‘defend first’. Delhi Dynamos bravely continued to stick to an attacking style of play. Up until this game, Blasters coach David James had been championing the cause of youth and putting his faith in young players. But there was a slight deviation from that philosophy in Saturday’s game.
The decision to make the teenaged Dheeraj Singh guard goal for the first two games gave way to a more cautious approach as in came the more experienced Naveen Kumar. That was the only change James made apart from giving local boy CK Vineeth a start.
Delhi coach Josep Gombau chose a 4-3-3 setup that didn’t hide his intention of going all out. The first half was played virtually in the Blasters half. The likes of Eugene Zuiverloon, Rene Mihelic were stretching the Kerala defence. They played wide and Blasters were made to toil. The Sandesh Jhingan-led side is used to this kind of pressure and they soaked it all up as the first half ended goalless.
Just minutes into second half, Vineeth justified his place in the team with a predatory finish from a corner. The claws were out and the home side looked to kill the game off. By the hour mark, the Delhi players were struggling to catch their breath and hands were on knees every time the ball went out of play.However, Blasters slipped back into their philosophy of defending deep that has almost become second nature to the players. It cost them dearly, as adrenaline kicked in for the Dynamos and Kaluderovic nodded home with minutes left to play. It was deja vu for Kerala. However, for all their efforts, Delhi still languish in eighth place.Result: Kerala Blasters 1 (Vineeth) Delhi Dynamos 1 (Kaluderovic).