David James made his on-field debut as a player in goal as the Kerala Blasters, the Kochi franchise of the Indian Super League (ISL), continued their pre-season rout ahead of the tournament by maintaining their perfect start, beating their opponents Central Excise by a score of 5-0 at the Corporation stadium, Thrissur.
The goal glut was lead by Australian striker Andrew Barisic, who scored his first hat-trick for the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned franchise. Young defender Soumik Dey also chipped in with a goal for himself. However, if the scoreline suggested a romp, it was anything but for the Blasters as they found it hard to get going against a well drilled Excise side.
The opposition meticulously worked hard to ensure all space was closed down in the final third as they made it difficult for the Blasters to have any penetration. They first goal itself was a lucky deflection of an Excise defender as the first half-wound to a close with the Blasters leading by that solitary goal.
Player-manager James then brought his thinking cap on, with him substituting most of the on-field eleven, giving his entire squad run-out. Bringing on Penn Orji and Frenchman Rafael Romy into the midfield seemed to do the trick as the latter anchored the midfield in place of Mehtab Hossain, whilst the former was handed the creative role. It paid heavy dividends as Orji’s passing seemed to pull the Blasters to another level.
Fatigue from the opposition aided the Kochi franchise's cause as Barisic netted a penalty alongside getting on the end of two Orji assists. The second half saw four goals as the game petered out with a comfortable victory for David James, his third this pre-season, maintaining a hundred percent record.
The Blasters will now face revered former I-League side Mohammedan Sporting at the same venue on Saturday.