Had this been an audition for the role of regular head coach of Kerala Blasters, ‘caretaker manager’ Trevor Morgan did just fine. A 1-1 draw, however, against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday, is not the kind of headline act that would spur his chances. It doesn’t help when his team ended the game with a man short and a missed penalty to rue about either.
The draw, claimed after Chris Dagnall’s 46th minute header negated Elano’s first half penalty, keeps Blasters in the burrows of the league. Only the boldest of them all would agree to take up the coaching role at this juncture. The single point did not benefit Chennaiyin much either, as they remain fifth with 10 points, just below Mumbai City FC.
Besides the speculations around a coaching role, the curiosity over how bad would Chennaiyin duo of Elano and Steven Mendoza hurt the less than impressive Blasters’ defence kept up the pre-match intrigue. Strangely, though, Elano had a rather quiet day. Of course, the score line would suggest otherwise, but it was far from that. The credit for that goes to Morgan, and Mehtab Hossain.
Morgan introduced wholesome changes in Blasters, much of it tactical. Gone were the three-man backline flanked by wing backs, instead it was a traditional back four. Ahead of them was Hossain at the deepest point of a ‘Diamond midfield’. There, Hossain impressed and stifled Elano. Sanchez Watt, at other end of the diamond, too had a good day. But none of that mattered, because Sandesh Jhingan decided he could hug Mendoza.
Mendoza is quick to go to crowd. Jhingan should have known, for there was only one outcome to the wrapped arms around the Colombian. Elano did not fluff the penalty. The man who did, however, was Blasters’ Jose Currais, who came in as a second half substitute for Joao Coimbra.
Josu is a confident man, but maybe he should have relented. Awarded a penalty, a rather contentious one after the referee judged Peter Ramage’s fall to the ground as smoking gun, Josu, was given the duty from the spot kick. Watt so badly wanted it, but skipper Ramage put his foot down. Even a decent goalkeeper would have saved Josu’s 51st minute kick, and Chennaiyin’s Karanjit Singh sure is.
With Blasters’ fortunes refusing to change, Bruno Perone’s red card, for ‘bucking’ Mendoza, went almost unnoticed.