Kochi: Kerala Blasters FC responded to a call from the fans on Tuesday with an inspired game even as they ended up with a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday.
Blasters looked like a side that found a new source of energy as they unleashed a flurry of attacks on Jamshedpur, never allowing the visitors to settle down.
Though it was Blasters who controlled the game, it was Jamshedpur who found the opening goal of the match through a spot kick from Carlos Calvo.
In the 66th minute, Kerala custodian Dheeraj Singh gave away the penalty with a challenge on Tim Cahill, who was on a breakout, at the edge of the box. But the Kerala keeper compensated for that mistake with a spellbinding save in the dying moments of the game. He denied Mario Blasco a header at glory by flying backward and pushing the ball over the bar.
Kerala’s equaliser came through Semininlen Doungel 11 minutes after Jamshedpur took the lead. In the 77th minute, Doungel, who was denied just minutes earlier by a human wall of Jamshedpur defenders, shook off his marks man and Subrata Paul to direct a ball airdropped by Slavisa Stojanovic.
The finishing touch remained elusive till that moment and after for Kerala. They, however, kept the visitors on the backfoot with a flurry of attacks that yielded no other result.
The rain-hit first half saw couple of injury substitutions, yellow cards and number of close shaves on goal. In the 12th minute, a hamstring injury forced Jamshedpur boss Cesar Ferrando to substitute Michael Soosairaj and David James was forced to replace Keziron Kizito, who steered Blasters' attack till the 40th minute, after he was stretchered off.
When Manjappada said about abandoning home matches, frustrated over the poor show by the team, they were not issuing an empty threat. The Blasters fans did not just abandon the match, but made sure that the message is conveyed to the team management loud and clear through two banners that read “Supporters (are) not customers!” and “We deserve better”.
After Blasters settled for an insipid draw against Chennaiyin FC in their previous outing, the fan club had run a social media poll asking members' opinion about boycotting home matches and issued an ultimatum to the management asking to resolve internal issues affecting the team's performance.
Blasters will next play Pune City on Friday at Kochi while Jamshedpur will host Delhi Dynamos next week.