KOCHI: East Bengal's recent unbeaten run was in danger of being ended by Kerala Blasters who were leading 1-0 till the last few seconds of injury time in their Indian Super League match at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Friday.
However, Red and Golds defender Scott Neville scored from a corner which was essentially the last piece of action before the final whistle to snatch a 1-1 draw.
The goal cancelled out Jordan Murray's 64th minute goal as the two sides settled for a point with East Bengal's unbeaten run now stretching to an impressive six games.
Both teams needed a big result to keep their play-off hopes alive and Blasters had the brighter start when the game began as Murray drew a point blank save from Debjit Majumder in the fifth minute. A long ball from the back beat the East Bengal defensive line and sat up perfectly for the Australian. Having scored two goals in the previous game, Murray was expected to bury that but Debjit managed to react quickly to keep it out.
The Kerala side kept troubling the Kolkata outfit with long balls and set-pieces and the 4-4-2 system which Kibu introduced in the last game was working well in this game.
At the other end, East Bengal forward Harmanpreet Singh had enjoyed a glorious opportunity when he was clear on goal but his shot was kept out by Albino Gomes.
One of reasons for East Bengal's resurgence this season has been the arrival of former Wolverhampton forward Bright Enobakhare and the Nigerian striker almost created a chance out of nothing when he danced past the Blasters players to the edge of the box but ended up shooting well wide.
Both teams were sloppy with possession and lacked a cutting edge as they went into half-time goalless.
When the second half resumed, Blasters nearly shot themselves in the foot when a cutback into the box by Enobakhare was almost turned into his own net by Blasters skipper Jessel Carneiro but he made amends just in time to clear it away.
After a quiet period of play, Blasters finally managed to break the deadlock in the 64th minute when Albino caught out the entire East Bengal team with a long ball into the path of Murray.
The striker managed to get ahead of his marker and despite losing his balance, he managed to steer it past Debjit to score his sixth goal of the campaign. It wasn't the most clinical finishes but Murray was rewarded for his alertness and effort.
There was an injury concern for Blasters when Jessel had to be replaced in the 68th minute which saw new signing Juande making his ISL debut.
To the credit of the Blasters defence, they managed to keep the dangerous Enobakhare quiet and the 22-year-old was not able to influence the game much.
Blasters were just seconds away from a win when they conceded a corner and East Bengal made them pay with Neville heading it in to leave the Kerala players shell shocked.