Defending champion Ranchi Rhinos scored an early goal to beat Dabur Mumbai Magicians in a hard-fought league match of the second edition of Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium in Mumbai today.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians had the first shot at goal early in the game but Bharat Chikkara’s try from inside the circle went wide.
Ranchi Rhinos ceased the opportunity that came their way and surged ahead in the 11th minute when Justin Reid Ross scored from a rebound with a full blooded forehand shot.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians looked rusty throughout the entire 70 minutes and despite creating a few chances they could not find the back of Ranchi Rhinos net.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians skipper Glen Turner dodged a number of Ranchi Rhinos players to create a bright chance but his shots went above Ranchi Rhinos cage.
Ranchi Rhinos controlled the proceedings for major part of the game but the visitors failed to convert their chances into goals to go into the breather with a slender 1-0 lead.
Bharat Chikkara got another good chance to register his name in the score sheet in the third quarter but his shot was kept away by an outstretched Ranchi Rhinos goalie Francisco Cortes.
Francisco Cortes was yet again at the thick of things when he denied Malaysian striker Faizal Saari from the left of circle.
The first penalty corner of the match came in the 55th minute for Ranchi Rhinos but the visitors wasted the opportunity.
Ranchi Rhinos got another opportunity to extend their lead through their second penalty corner of the match but Reid Ross’ flick was palmed away by David Harte in Dabur Mumbai Magicians goal.
Dabur Mumbai Magicians had their best opportunity to salvage a draw in the penultimate minute of the match through their only penalty corner of the game but Cortes easily thwarted the danger to keep Ranchi Rhinos lead intact, which incidentally was the last action of the game.
The win gave Ranchi Rhinos five points and took their tally to 23 points from six games. Dabur Mumbai Magicians, on the other hand, pocketed one point from the encounter but continued to languish at the bottom of the table with just seven points from as many games.
Hero Goal of the match winner – Justin Reid Ross
YES Bank Garv Award winner – Justin Reid Ross
Man of the Match – Birendra Lakra
Speaking to the media, Gregg Clark, Coach, Ranchi Rhinos said, “Its feels good to win 5 points though it was not the most accurate performance. Mumbai made us work extra hard. We missed penalty corners today else our number could have been better. We are all geared up to defend our title. All players play a vital role in the team and I am looking at a joint effort to ensure our win in the League.”
Moritz Fürste, Ranchi Rhinos said, “I am not particularly happy with our performance today. But not conceding any goal in 70 minutes is great. The pitch is perfect here and ideal for good hockey. Addition of one more team has made the League more interesting.”
M K Kaushik, Coach of Dabur Mumbai Magicians said, “We did well and team was in good form. We could not however make any goal. We have tried many strategies in the League but have not been able to find a winning formula. We will continue to try and close the League with good points.”
Glenn Turner, Captain of Dabur Mumbai Magicians said, “I am quite disappointed with today’s loss. We did not seem to be into the game right from the beginning. Could not create the momentum required. Going forward, we will work hard to learn from our errors.”
Ranchi Rhinos will next face last year’s runners-up Delhi Waveriders at the Capital’ Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on February 12, while Dabur Mumbai Magicians will host Delhi Waveriders on February 15.