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ISL 2017-18: Toothless Kerala Blasters exposed by solid Jamshedpur FC

08:53 EAT 18/01/2018
Ashim Biswas Jamshedpur FC Kerala Blasters FC ISL 4 2017/2018
The Men in Yellow were dismal in attack as Jamshedpur FC brought to an end their three-game unbeaten run...

Kerala Blasters fans have had a lot to cheer about after the sacking of Rene Meulensteen at the turn of the New Year. In came David James, who was the Blasters' player-cum-manager in the first season of the Indian Super League (ISL), and the Englishman enjoyed a fine start to his second stint. 

They drew at home against FC Pune City before notching back-to-back wins on the road against Delhi Dynamos and Mumbai City FC, filling the fans with a sense of optimism and hope. But that was punctured by a solid Jamshedpur on Wednesday night who exposed the lack of bite in the Blasters attack. 

Jamshedpur themselves were in need of a win and Steve Coppell's men stepped up to the occasion by nullifying their manager's former team with solid organisation and a shrewd attacking plan. 

Even in the 3-1 win in Delhi, Kerala Blasters were not scintillating in attack. Iain Hume's industry and effort was what carried them through. There was very less creativity from the midfield while the defence was far from being solid. Delhi Dynamos spurned a lot of chance in that game, with David Ngaihte and Romeo Fernandes the guilty parties.

Against Mumbai City FC, only a ridiculously poor decision from the referee helped Hume notch the winner. But worryingly, the attack failed to create chances and the Canadian was often bereft of service. Apart from a few flashes of brilliance from Courage Pekuson, there was no purpose or direction in attack and all that was exposed against Jamshedpur FC

Coppell, who started with Memo and new signing Wellington Priori in midfield, would have expected his side to keep a cleansheet against a side who have struggled to create chances. Though the cleansheet was not to be as Mark Sifneos capitalised on a rare piece of indecision in the penalty box late on, it was never going to be anything more than a consolation. 

The body blow to Kerala was landed as early as in the 23rd second of the game when Jerry Mawihmingthanga scored the fastest goal in ISL history. Samuel Shadap and Sandesh Jhingan were caught ball-watching while Wes Brown failed to pick up the diminutive winger's intelligent run into the box. Once Ashim Biswas picked him out with slide-rule pass, beating Rachubka was always going to be easy from that position for Jerry. 

The Blasters' defence were caught flat-footed once again around the half-hour mark when skipper Sandesh Jhingan failed to read a cross into the box and missed it altogether, allowing Biswas to slot it home. 

More importantly, Blasters had about 52% possession but fewer shots on target (two to Jamshedpur's five) during the game, pointing towards a lack of cohesion in attack. Hume was often toiling away without any support up front. The midfield was also hampered by the injury to Keziron Kizito. 

David James has to implement a plan in attack on the evidence Wednesday night offered while Jamshedpur FC revel in their first home win of the season. And it was a timely win as the fight for the playoff spots turns intense.