Goalkeepers shine in a 1-1 draw between Jamshedpur and Kerala Blasters

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Khalid Jamil kept the Playoffs surge alive despite the absence of two star players

In the second game of Matchday 20 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season, Jamshedpur held Kerala Blasters to a 1-1 draw, here at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. Dimitrios Diamantakos opened the scoring for the Tuskers, while Javier Siverio was on target for the Red Miners.

Jamshedpur head coach Khalid Jamil made two changes to the team that lost 0-3 against Mumbai City in a controversial game. Siverio and Nikhil Barla were handed starts in place of the suspended duo of Daniel Chima Chukwu and Provat Lakra respectively.

On the other hand, Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic made five changes to the team that lost 3-4 against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. Marko Leskovic, Naocha Singh, Danish Farooq, Mohammed Aimen, and Emmanuel Justine got into the starting XI replacing Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Jeakson Singh, Daisuke Sakai, and Fedor Cernych respectively.

The match had a brisk start as it took Kerala Blasters only 2 minutes to get their first opening. Rahul KP played a ball for Justine who tried his luck from a distance but the Nigerian striker could not score on his first start for the club.

Jamshedpur had their first chance in the 10th minute. Mohammed Sanan beat his marker and pulled the trigger, but Milos Drincic came up with a heroic tackle to keep the scoreline at 0-0. The rebound fell for Jeremy Manzorro, whose attempt was not a million miles away from the target either.

The Red Miners had a brief spell of possession where they created quite a few chances. In the 12th minute, Rei Tachikawa and Siverio collaborated wonderfully when the Japanese attacker found the Spanish striker with a pass, but the latter’s attempt was narrowly wide.

Dimitrios Diamantakos was on target for Kerala Blasters again

But all those missed chances came back to haunt the Red Miners, as the away team took the lead in the 23rd minute. Receiving a pass from Rahul, Justine showed the presence of mind in pushing the ball into the path of Diamantakos, who had made a run between his two markers Pratik Chaudhari and PC Laldinpuia. The Greek striker then slotted the ball past TP Rehenesh to make the scoreline 1-0 for the Tuskers.

Jamshedpur had the chance to equalize just six minutes later when Manzorro found Siverio in a good position from a free-kick, but the East Bengal loanee could not pounce on the opportunity.

But the Tuskers were not successful in preserving their lead as the equalizer finally arrived in the 45th minute. Elsinho played a long ball from the deep which caught Vukomanovic’s backline napping as Siverio managed to run ahead of his marker Leskovic. He then struck a shot which the Tuskers’ goalkeeper Karanjit Singh managed to get a hand to, but the ball still rolled into the back of the net.

The Tuskers had the better start to the second half as well and had their first chance just six minutes after the resumption. After receiving a pass from Diamantakos, Cernych tried to add to his tally but Rehenesh comfortably saved his weak attempt.

Rahul had a few chances just after the hour mark. In the 62nd minute, he managed to evade a tackle from Laldinpuia with his trickery before pulling the trigger, but he could not find the target. The young winger had another attempt just two minutes later, but this went wide as well.

Jamshedpur’s best chance of the second half came in the 77th minute as Komal Thatal put on the afterburners and darted down the middle of the pitch after receiving a long ball. The forgotten star of India’s Under-17 side nearly managed to make a name for himself again as he struck a sweet attempt, but it unfortunately hit the crossbar.

Another young Indian attacker, Ishan Pandita could have been the hero for his team. He found himself in a good position in the 83rd minute, but unlike Thatal, Pandita’s shot was nowhere near the target.

Kerala Blasters nearly sealed the win in the 87th minute via Cernych. Running down the right flank, the Lithuanian made a mockery of his marker, the young Wungngayam Muirang. Cernych first cut inside and then went outside before launching a shot, which beat Rehenesh but hit the woodwork.

That was still not the last chance of the game, as both teams had chances to seal all three points. In the 95th minute, Saurav Mandal found Diamantakos inside the box with an excellent pass but the former Olympiacos striker’s shot was saved by Rehenesh.

It was then Karanjit’s turn to prove he still has a lot to give to Indian football, despite being 38 years of age. Manzorro’s inch-perfect pass found Alen Stevanovic through on goal, but the veteran goalkeeper came up with a brilliant save to secure a point for his team.With this draw, Jamshedpur is placed 7th in the standings with 21 points from 20 matches. They will now take on Chennaiyin on Thursday while Kerala Blasters are 5th with 30 points from 19 matches and will be up against NorthEast United on Saturday.