The defending champions Ranchi Rhinos were held for draw by a much improved and spirited Dabur Mumbai Magicians in a league match of the second edition of Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi today.
It took the Ranchi Rhinos 52 minutes to open the scoring through Justin Reid Ross before Dabur Mumbai Magicians equalized six minutes later through Trent Mitton (58th minute) to split the points as their Irish Goalkeeper David Harte pulled out a man-of-the-match performance including saving a penalty stroke.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians made a promising start and dominated the early share of possession.
Veteran Prabhjot Singh got the first real scoring chance in the 10th minute but luck did not favor as his shot found the upright bar of the post.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians continued their attacking game and earned the first penalty corner of the match soon but Gurjinder Singh’s flick was kept away by an alert Ranchi Rhinos goalie Francisco Cortes.
Ranchi Rhinos responded quickly and secured their first penalty corner minutes later but in the game of finding upright bars of the post, Ashley Jackson struck the post as Dabur Mumbai Magicians escaped a close chance.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians were the better of the two sides in the first quarter but they were guilty of wasting their opportunities as they failed to capitalize on another penalty corner in the 20th minute.
Both Ranchi Rhinos and Dabur Mumbai Magicians fought hard to gain control of the proceedings in the second quarter but failed to threaten the rival citadel with potent attacks as both the teams failed to break the deadlock at halftime.
Ranchi Rhinos dished out a much-better display in the second half and created a few bright openings but Dabur Mumbai Magicians defence led by Malaysian Mohd Razie Rahim, stood firm to deny the hosts.
The title holders finally managed to break the deadlock, when Reid Ross found yet another post on a a penalty corner in the 52nd minute, but this time the ball tickled over the goal line after rebound from post hit the leg of Vikas Pillay.
Trailing by a goal, Dabur Mumbai Magicians came all out attacking in the final quarter and secured a penalty corner but Ranchi Rhinos goalkeeper Cortes was up to the task.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians persistent attacks finally bore fruit when Mitton slotted it home on rebound in a penalty corner to draw level.
But Ranchi Rhinos did not sit back and pressed hard in search of the winner and got a golden chance when they were awarded a penalty stroke in the last 10 minutes of the match but Dabur Mumbai Magicians goalkeeper David Harte made a brilliant save to keep his side in the hunt.
Ranchi Rhinos had another opportunity, in the form of a penalty corner, to pocket full points from the game but Dabur Mumbai Magicians defense stood tall to deny Reid-Ross.
MK Kaushik, Coach Dabur Mumbai Magicians said “Today our team played well compared to last matches. We lacked somewhere in the game otherwise we could have won the match. But overall performance of the team has improved.”
Glenn Turner, Captain Dabur Mumbai Magicians said “I am very satisfied with the overall performance of the team. We got various opportunities in the game, particularly in the first half the team was under little pressure but as the game proceeded the boys came out with their best performance. If we play consistently like this we can win more matches in future.”
Gregg Clark, Coach Ranchi Rhinos said “I think it was a game of two hopes and all our players played up to the mark. Team got various chances and I would not say that we missed opportunities but with every chance team tried to prove themselves. Missing the penalty corner was the real turning point of the matches. I hope to see Mandeep back on field soon.”
Moritz Furste, Captain Ranchi Rhinos said “It is fabulous feeling to come back in Hero Hockey India league. My team is very good and its great to spend time with them. As far as today’s performance is concerned we played with full confidence. Penalty corners are big chances for any team and I am very happy that our team saved the same today. Almost all players of our team are one year old in HHIL and they understand the game well which puts us in a stronger position compared to other teams.”
Both Ranchi Rhinos and Dabur Mumbai Magicians garnered two points apiece from the second drawn encounter of HHIL 2014. With 13 points from four games, Ranchi Rhinos are presently lying in the fourth position in the standings, while Dabur Mumbai Magicians continued to reel at the bottom with five points from four matches (Points Table here).
Dabur Mumbai Magicians will next play Delhi Waveriders in away match in the Capital’s Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Thursday, while Ranchi Rhinos will host Kalinga Lancers on Friday.