ATK came back twice in each half to hold Kerala Blasters to a thrilling 2-2 draw but further dented their slim chances of making the play-offs in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Thursday.Iceland footballer Gudjon Baldvinsson (33rd) helped Kerala nod ahead before ATK's Ryan Taylor equalised (38th) to go into the break locked at 1-1.Fit-again Bulgarian marquee player Dimitar Berbatov (55th) put Kerala in front again with crisp strike but Tom Thorpe (75th) hit back for the hosts for the second time as the match ended in a stalemate. The result saw ATK remain rooted to the eighth spot having 13 points from 14 matches. Kerala, meanwhile, leapfrogged FC Goa to move to fifth position from sixth with 21 points from 15 outings.ATK failed to log three points yet again but stemmed the rot of four successive losses. They are now virtually out of the reckoning for a place in the place in the play-offs.Both teams made two changes from their previous game, ATK replacing Poirei and Rupert Nongrum for Debjit Majumder back in goal and Tom Thorpe while Kerala welcomed Berbatov back to the team after a lengthy injury layoff, and January signing Baldvinsson also in the starting XI.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts when Berbatov lost possession at the halfway line with Darren Caldiera setting up Martin Paterson who shot wide.Kerala took the lead three minutes into the half-hour mark when Baldvinsson made the most of a quick counter attack, turning in Prasanth's cross albeit with the help of a slight deflection.ATK took five minutes to level proceedings, Ryan Taylor taking the swipe from distance with the ball taking another deflection off Lalruatthara before rolling past a wrong-footed Subashish Roy Choudhary and into the net.Courage Pekuson almost restored the lead for the visitors but his show took a deflection off ATK's Thorpe and went just wide of the post.After the break, Berbatov got his first goal of the league when the former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur star fired in a half-volley off Baldvinsson's layoff.ATK though, refused to throw in the towel, Thorpe leaping highest to head in Taylor's flag kick.Both teams looked for a winner in the last few minutes of the game but failed to get one.