Delhi Dynamos FC 0-0 NorthEast United FC: Highlanders earn a vital away point

29th october, 2014: NorthEast United FC matched Delhi Dynamos blow-for-blow in a closely contested Indian Super League clash that finished in a 0-0 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday evening.

NorthEast United FC coach Ricki Herbert and goalkeeper T P Rehenesh

NorthEast United FC coach Ricki Herbert and goalkeeper T P Rehenesh

When coach Ricki Herbert was asked to comment on the pairing of players he commented, “When players like for example James Keene and Durga Boro or Tomas Josl and Robin Gurung are paired together, it’s all about the opportunity in hand and building on the existing rapport and relationship that they have created over the duration of playing together.” He also added that his role in Indian football is to invest in the young talent of the nation. In support of this he stated, “I am extremely proud of Rehenesh today, he proved to be an amazing goalkeeper for the team.” Rehenesh won the emerging player award while Keene was awarded the award for fittest player of the match.

The Highlanders were missing captain Joan Capdevila, their top scorer Koke, Isaac Chansa and Alexander Tzorvas due to injury concerns. James Keene, Tomas Josl and Massamaba Sambou were the three new faces drafted into the first eleven.

The home side on the other hand made just one change with Adil Khan coming into the starting line-up in place of Naoba Singh.
NorthEast United started brightly right from the first whistle. Josl’s long throw-in within the opening minute led to appeals for a penalty inside the box for handball. Seconds later, the winger’s dangerous cross to the far post was just about cleared in time.

In the third minute, Durga Boro’s shot from a good position was blazed high and wide. Delhi Dynamos then appeared to find their feet at home and created a couple of chances of their own.

In the 14th minute, Alessandro Del Piero did brilliantly to shift the ball onto his left foot and unleashed a beauty that was a whisker away from the target.

With 17 minutes on the clock, Delhi took a quick free-kick on the edge of their own box and broke quickly. A through ball found Mads Junker with Robin Gurung for company. The full-back did well to show him down the outside and his shot was sliced wide and well off target.

In the following minute, Del Piero came close again, this time with his right peg. The former Juventus striker tried to curl one into the bottom right corner from outside the box and went just as close as his previous effort.

NorthEast United at that point seemed to have resisted that onslaught from the hosts and began to exert more control on the game again.

Boro played a sublime pass over the top of the defence in the 22nd minute. James Keene ran onto the ball and struck it with his left foot but his shot was saved by Van Hout and the flag was raised for offside anyway.

Del Piero tested TP Rehenesh from a free-kick in the 38th minute but the visiting custodian was up to the task and held on to his effort.

Four minutes later down the other end of the pitch, Josl chased Felipe De Crasto’s ball forward and hit the deck inside the box under pressure from the defender, appealing for a penalty. The referee however took a different view of the incident and booked the Czech winger for simulation.

Josl however went on to produce a moment of sheer class a minute before the break. He unleashed an absolute screamer from distance that went agonizingly wide of the upright. His left-footed shot from 40 yards out dipped, swerved and did everything but end up on the right side of the post.

The visitors started the second period much like they did the first; on the front foot. Aibor Khongjee bombed down the right flank and delivered a good cross in the 49th minute but Wim Raymaekers managed to get ahead of Keene and clear it away.

Boro then fired a shot from range in the following minute. His effort took a deflection off Raymaekers and Van Hout had to tap it behind for a corner.

In the same passage of play, Keene got his head to a ball that was flicked on by Kondwani Mtonga but it looped into the grateful arms of Van Hout.

The striker enticed Raymaekers into a foul in the following minute. Felipe smashed the free-kick into the wall and when the ball eventually fell to Boro, he pulled the trigger but Van Hout got down to his left and catches the attempt.

Delhi finally created a chance of their own ten minutes into the half. Del Piero did well down the right and played a ball to the near post which Mads Junker flicked towards goal with his in-step but the effort crashed off the post.

NorthEast however, went straight up the other end and Gurung almost got on the end of a dangerous cross from Khongjee but for a vital last-ditch interception by Anwar Ali.

Gurung was involved again in the 65th minute. He burst into the box and seemed poised to shoot from a great position but Raymaekers shoved him off the ball. The full-back hit the deck but NorthEast United’s pleas for a penalty were turned down by the referee and Felipe was even issued a yellow card for remonstrating.

With 72 minutes played, NorthEast United produced a great move that should have led to the opening goal. Keene ran on to a ball down the left flank and played it back to the edge of the box for Felipe to run on to. The Brazilian laid it off for the substitute Leo Bertos whose shot went over the bar.

Hans Mulder forced Rehenesh into a good save with four minutes of regulation time left. He entered the box and fired his shot goalwards but the Indian custodian managed to parry it away to safety.

NorthEast boldly pushed forward in search of a winner in the dying moments and were nearly caught on the break in the final minute of injury time. Gurung put in a good tackle on Morten Skoubo who was advancing towards the goal but the ball fell kindly for Mulder whose effort produced the save of the match from Rehenesh.

The two sides eventually settled for a share of the spoils at full-time. Ricki Herbert will be pleased with another strong display from his young brigade away from home. The absence of Koke, Capdevila and Chansa makes this result all the more impressive.

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