Kerala Blasters player Mustapha Gning in action against North East United. (Photo- ISL Twitter)
Guwahati: NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters FC played out a goalless stalemate in the Indian Super League at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Friday.
After a cagey first half, both sides had chances to clinch the game in the second half. However, profligate finishing meant the game finished goalless.
Kerala are eighth on the table with 15 points while NorthEast United, who have not scored for five games in a row now, are a spot below with 12 points.
The game got off to a sedate start with the ball mired in midfield as both sides struggled to find their rhythm. There was a lack of urgency from both teams, unsurprising given the fact that both sides were out of the running for play-off spots.
NorthEast were handed a blow in the middle of the first half when Provat Lakra went off injured and Wayne Vaz had to fill in. Both goalkeepers continued to be untested as the half went by.
The first real chance of the game finally came in the 41st minute when Federico Gallego picked out Andy Keogh's run from a chipped free-kick. But the Irishman could not keep his first-time volley on target.
Just before the break, NorthEast custodian Subhasish Roy Chowdhury was forced into a save when Moustapha Gning glanced a header from Sergio Cidoncha's free-kick. Subhasish was well-placed to deal with the effort.
However, the second-half saw a flurry of chances. NorthEast should have taken the lead within two minutes of the restart when Gallego picked out substitute Nikhil Kadam's run into the box with a brilliant pass. But Kadam's shot from close range was straight to Kerala goalkeeper Bilal Khan who parried it away.
A few minutes later, Cidoncha's ball into the box fell for Gning just outside the box and his venomous effort had to be kept out by Subhasish.
Kerala continued to be on the ascendancy and forced another save from the NorthEast custodian just past the hour mark. This time, it was Halicharan Narzary who found space to shoot from just inside the box but it was too close to Subhasish.
The tale of missed chances continued as Bartholomew Ogbeche latched on to Gianni Zuiverloon's long ball in the 73rd minute and had just Subhasish to beat. However, he lashed his effort wide from close range.
At the other end, Keogh turned smartly after receiving Gallego's pass but sent his volley straight at goalkeeper Bilal Khan.
That would be the story of the game as the second half fizzled out with both sides unable to score a goal.