Delhi Dynamos just can't quite catch a break in this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) and they only have themselves to blame for it.
Head coach Miguel Angel Portugal must have heaved a sigh of relief after Delhi's 2-2 draw against Chennaiyin FC last Sunday, which signalled the end of their six-game losing streak. Just when the Spaniard must have thought his team's season was taking a turn for the better, an Iain Hume-inspired Kerala Blasters put paid to those hopes with a 3-1 win on Wednesday night at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi.
Though the scoreline suggests that Kerala were superior in all departments on the night, it was not so. The Dynamos played well but were very poor in front of goal, missing several good chances. At this stage of the league, especially when you are looking to break out of a slump, you need to take your chances in front of goal whenever they come.
Lallianzuala Chhangte, playing off David Ngaihte who was deployed as the striker, had a couple of early chances before Courage Pekuson got past Pritam Kotal on the left wing far too easily and saw his low cross being bundled in by Iain Hume.
Even after conceding, Delhi passed the ball well and creating openings with their front four which had pace in abundance. But they were just not converting them. Romeo Fernandez blazed a shot over from just outside the area before Kotal made amends by glancing in the equaliser from Romeo's setpiece just before half-time.
But Miguel Portugal's men were dealt a blow when newly-signed goalkeeper Xabi Irureta had to be taken off after being tackled by Mark Sifneos, who himself had replaced the injured Dimitar Berbatov for Kerala Blasters.
The story remained the same in the second half as well, with Romeo hitting the side-netting from a tight angle before Chhangte sent Ngaihte through on goal but the former Minerva Punjab forward did not take his chance. And minutes later, Iain Hume punished them with an individual effort. He latched on to a throw-in down the left flank before turning two defenders and arrowing a low finish to the far corner to send Kerala ahead.
As a shell-shocked Delhi watched on, Hume would capitalise on another piece of slack defending from Delhi and complete his hat-trick to seal the result. While it would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Miguel Angel Portugal, it is fair to say they let themselves down with poor finishing and even poorer defending which has been the story of their season so far.
Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, were not really impressive but will be happy with an important win that has pushed them up to sixth on the table. The Men in Yellow were far from being impressive, with only the likes of Keziron Kizito, Courage Pekuson and Iain Hume impressing. It certainly was not a vintage Kerala Blasters performance but it was a vintage Iain Hume show on the night.
The league's all-time leading goalscorer harried opponents without tiring, chasing down long balls with gusto and generally being a thorn in the side of the Delhi defence. The 34-year-old took eight games before he registered his first goal of the season but made it memorable by grabbing two more. Hume has this history of starting slow and then exploding to life, just like he did in the 2015 season with ATK where he found the net after six games but went on to win the golden boot.
This season, he has been utilised at the left and behind the striker at times. Credit must also be given to David James to deploying him to lead the lines. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters faithful will be hoping that Hume's resurgence will result in the team shaking off its poor start. The signs are certainly there!