The demanding supporters of Kerala Blasters were let down at the Kaloor Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi yet again. For the second successive Indian Super League (ISL) match, Kerala Blasters conceded a goal late in the second half and were forced to share the spoils at the final whistle.
After a sluggish first half that failed to yield a breakthrough, CK Vineeth put the hosts in front with a well-taken goal. Stojanovic's corner-kick reached Matej Poplatnik and the Slovenian's shot at goal was blocked. The rebound was dispatched into the net by the Keralite.
Indians leading the charge at Blasters
Vineeth deserved a goal for his efforts and coach David James lavished praise upon the striker for his efforts in training that ultimately merited a start. It is a positive sign that Indian players are having a massive impact at Blasters this season. Matej Poplatnik, who scored against ATK in the opener, was dropped to the bench to accommodate Vineeth.
“CK (Vineeth) has been training like the guy who wants to start football games. He scored a goal and I am not surprised by it. He has done so well in training at the beginning of the season. He deserved to start today. If you train well, you stand a chance to start. It has nothing to do with Matej (Poplatnik)."
Vineeth, Halicharan Narzary, Seiminlen Doungel and youngster Sahal Abdul Samad have all had an influence so far and that has limited the first-team roles of Keziron Kizito and Courage Pekuson. David James deserves credit for his no-nonsense approach when it comes to team selection. After three games this season, he is yet to field a first team that has five foreign players (maximum allowed quota).
Blasters' home form bemusing
For a team that boasts the largest fanbase in the country, Kerala Blasters have made very little of their fixtures in Kochi. The Yellow Army's home form is damning. Blasters have just two wins to their name in the last 14 matches at home.
David James has repeatedly mentioned the impact the crowd in Kochi has on opponents. Every team wants to play in front of packed stadiums that generate a competitive atmosphere and thus, it could be that the visitors get a boost while playing at Blasters' home turf.
The positives should outweigh the negatives. The team should learn to react to increased desire shown by visiting teams to pick up a point or more from the matches in Kochi.
Blasters should have pressed for a second goal while they were on top. They looked to have raised their tempo in the minutes after Vineeth's goal but the Dynamos were allowed back into the game and the hosts ultimately paid the price.
The stunned silence of the crowd was similar to the one at the end of the match against Mumbai City two weeks ago. The home team should have been a little more aggressive in trying to find a second goal. They weren't.
The Kochi-based club registered just two wins at home last season and that will not do if they are to mount a title challenge.
Two points lost for Delhi Dynamos?
Josep Gombau's experiment with Gianni Zuiverloon in midfield did nothing to solve the Lions' problems in front of goal. The wingers were consistently getting behind the full backs, with Lallianzuala Chhangte getting the better of Mohammad Rakip on the left-flank and beating him with sheer pace and skill. But the finishing left a lot to be desired.
Dynamos managed to threaten Kerala Blasters and the match was there for the taking, especially in the first half when the visitors looked dominant.
Delhi Dynamos need to find a solution to replace the injured Marcos Tebar in the team. Shubham Sarangi had partnered Vinit Rai in the pivot against ATK but he failed to make an impact. Gombau chose to play centre-back Zuiverloon alongside Vinit against Blasters but not only was he helpless in the final third, the defender missed a golden chance to score from the centre of the box at the stroke of half-time.