After the 1-0 win over NorthEast United, Kerala Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen said, “I didn't expect Wes to see out the 90 minutes.” What this proves is that the defender wasn’t 100 per cent fit ahead of the tie and more importantly, NorthEast United didn’t pressurize or make him enough to tire before the end of the game.
Yes, the fact that the visitors played with 10-men for over 45 minutes surely helped Brown stroll his way. Deployed in the middle of the park in a defensive role alongside Siam Hanghal, the former Sunderland defender did well to spray passes across either sides of the field. He was quick to initiate attacks by spotting runs of Jackichand Singh and Chekiyot Vineeth.
His defence splitting through-ball for Vineeth was one of the highlights in the first half. However, both Martin Diaz and Rowllin Borges were second best when it came to winning the ball and putting him under pressure. Only once in the second half, Borges won the ball off Brown and initiated a counter which led to Danilo Lopes seeing his effort blocked by Rino Anto. The other occasion being Brown making a 30-yard run to close down the angle for Luis Paez, who went on a rampaging run down the right flank in the second half.
It’s this aspect which would concern Joao de Deus most that his midfielders, namely 29-year-old Diaz and 25-year-old Borges, came second best against a 38-year-old makeshift midfielder coming off an injury and not fully fit.
With regards to the red card, certainly the decision couldn’t have been more wrong. When T.P.Rehenesh made contact with Mark Sifneos outside the box, he was definitely not the last man with Sambinha covering the goal. A yellow card would have been fine but referee Rowan Arumughan, who was nowhere close to the incident when Rehenesh committed the foul, handed a straight red card without consulting the linesman at the far side who had a better view of the incident.
What was even more stupid from the referee that he didn’t play the advantage to Kerala with Sifneos back on his feet to slot the ball home into the net with only Sambinha to beat! No wonder the Kerala players on the bench were infuriated with the decision as well.
Meulensteen mentioned that he almost had three heart attacks in the last 10 minutes or so which only highlights the failure of his team to close the game against a side who are a man down. The home side refused to take the chances which came their way in the second half with Courage Pekuson and Vineeth being wasteful upfront.
They gave NorthEast United a slim hope to nick one in and score the equaliser but not netting the second goal.
While Meulensteen wouldn’t mind that his team picked up three points after the forgetful affair in Goa, there is a lot to improve upon especially in attack.
“When you win, it is not that everything is well. When you lose, it is not that everything is wrong,” said de Deus and he couldn’t be more right in his assessment.