Mumbai, January 14: A first half strike by in-form Iain Hume handed David James his second consecutive win in the Indian Super League since taking over as head coach at Kerala Blasters FC. The 1-0 over Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Sports Arena on Sunday also helped the visitors climb up one spot on the points table to sixth place, with only goal difference separating from sixth-placed Mumbai City FC, who are also on 14 points.
The game began with Mumbai sending in a few quick crosses into Kerala’s box for Balwant Singh to go and attack. Sixteen minutes into the game, Sanju Pradhan and Balwant tested the much touted KBFC defence but the highest Indian scorer’s header went just wide of goal.
Alexandre Guimarães’ side continued to ask questions of the visitor’s defense, but it was Kerala Blasters FC who took the lead in the 23rd minute. A quick free-kick by Courage Pekuson caught Mumbai’s defense napping and Hume break free from the off-side trap to out-step the ball past a diving Amrinder.
Responding well after the initial shock, Mumbai City FC kept possession of the ball well for the remainder of the first half. However, they failed to create any clear-cut chances to make any difference.
The second half began with Kerala Blasters replacing a striker with a midfielder. CK Vineeth came on for Sifenois to try and wrestle control of the game in the midfield from Mumbai. But it was Lalruatthara, who had to come up with a heroic block on the line from a Balwant Singh strike to deny Mumbai the equalizer.
The second half saw both sides guilty of conceding and committing unnecessary fouls. In the final third of the game, Mumbai FC goalkeeper, Amrinder Singh, had to come up with a couple of good saves to stop the visitors from adding to their tally. In the 80th minute, he got down well to palm a Hume free kick after Lucian Goian pulled CK Vineeth down on the edge of his own box. From the resulting corner, the Mumbai stopper was again on hand to deny Vineeth, who looked certain to double Kerala’s lead after the ball fell kindly to him.