Kerala Blasters FC’s winless run continued following a goalless draw against Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.
Kerala, which was already hampered by injuries this season, suffered a major blow in the fourth minute when captain Jairo Rodriguez went down injured. He was replaced by Abdul Hakku. However, the home side continued to press high up the field, trying to take the game to its opponent. But Odisha was well organized at the back.
A cautious period of play early on came to a halt as a head-on collision inside the box left Santana and Messi Bouli requiring medical attention. Following a long pause, the game resumed with Carlos Delgado and Mohammed Rafi replacing the injured players.
With both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances, Sahal Abdul Samad took matters into his own hands as he embarked on a stellar solo run after picking up the ball from the right flank. The midfielder outfoxed three defenders before Narayan Das brought him down inside the box, but the referee rejected vociferous appeals for a penalty.
Blasters was the better side in the first half, although by fine margins. Rafi’s drilled cross into the box from the right was met by Rahul KP, whose audacious volley failed to test Odisha goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro. The teams struggled to raise the tempo and keep hold of the ball after the break as well.
The tourist threatened when Jerry Mawihmingthanga’s cross put Kerala custodian TP Rehenesh in a spot of bother. The goalkeeper spilled the ball inside the box, but Nandhakumar Sekar hit the rebound into the side-netting. Prasanth Karuthadathkuni had the crowd up on its feet when he cut in from the right flank and pulled the trigger, only to send the speculative effort over the bar.
There were a couple more chances at either end as the game wound down, but a goal remained elusive. With four minutes left, a Prasanth cross from the left was flicked towards Rahul at the far post by second half substitute Bartholomew Ogbeche. But the youngster’s shot was kept out by Dorronsoro. Daniel Lalhlimpuia spurned a chance for the away side as both teams settled for a point each.