Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United played out a goalless draw in the Indian Super League match, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium, in Guwahati, on Friday.
This was the 2019-20 edition's first goalless draw since Match 22 between ATK FC and Odisha FC, which last registered the 0-0 scoreline way back in November 24, 2019.
Interestingly, ATK and Odisha will lock horns in the reverse fixture on Saturday.
Neither team could breach the opposition defence in the first half.
The second half saw a lot more urgency from both ends, but neither side could find a way through.
Both sides exhibited some swift passing football in the opening stages but chances of note were few and far between. After the first fifteen minutes, Kerala tried to increase the tempo and force the issue but had little joy.
As the match progressed, the action was largely confined to the midfield area with both teams putting in crunching challenges to deter the opposition players from venturing any further. Around the 41st minute, Andrew Keogh found himself on the end of a Federico Gallego free-kick but failed to make Kerala goalkeeper Bilal Khan work with his volleyed attempt.
Just before half-time, there was a chance at the other end as Sergio Cidoncha found Mouhamadou Gning’s head with a free kick. The Senegalese midfielder did manage to nod it towards goal but NorthEast custodian Subhasish Roy was well-placed to catch the ball. The first half ended with the two sides deadlocked at 0-0.
NorthEast head coach Robert Jarni brought on Nikhil Kadam in place of Simon Lundevall in the second half and the nippy midfielder had a big chance to disturb the scoreline five minutes into his introduction. A lovely passing move set Gallego free down the left flank and the Uruguayan picked up Kadam’s late run inside the box with a clever pass. The NorthEast no. 23 tried to slot it past Bilal but the Kerala custodian made himself big and blocked the shot.
Minutes later, Gning’s stinging shot from outside the box forced a good save from Subhasish Roy, as the game livened up. Around the hour mark, Roy was called into action again, this time keeping out Halicharan Narzary’s drive from inside the box. In the 72nd minute, Bartholomew Ogbeche squandered a golden opportunity. Free down the right-hand side and with space to shoot, the 35-year-old could only find the side-netting.
The Highlanders had their own opportunity to edge forward in the 74th minute. Keogh took a stab goalwards from inside the box but Bilal managed to make the save. The final 15 minutes saw both sides make some attacking changes in an attempt to find the all-important first goal, but couldn’t.