Hosts Dabang Mumbai kept their nerves to edge past Kalinga Lancers by 2-1 to record their first win in Hero Hockey India League. With the win in a must win match for both the teams, the Mumbai side mentored by former Indian Hockey Captain Viren Rasquinha earned five points to close the point’s gap with Delhi Waveriders and be in contention for a place in semi final.
Opening seconds of the first quarter saw Kalinga Lancers immediately attack the D of Dabang Mumbai and Lucas Vila missed a golden opportunity to score for his team. Five minutes into the quarter Dabang Mumbai got their first penalty corner but was missed by Tom Boon. Both sides continued to defend flawlessly, not giving the other to score and take the lead, resulting in the session ending without any goals getting scored.
The second quarter saw Floris Evers winning a short corner for his team and Dabang Mumbai having another opportunity to score. While Tom Boon again missed converting the penalty corner, but Jeremy Hayward scored by tapping in the rebound to earn lead of 1-0 in 18th minute. Five minutes left in the second quarter, Kalinga Lancers got their first penalty corner of the match but Dabang Mumbai survived and the score remained at 1-0 with the latter still leading.
The third quarter witnessed more moves, more attacks and finally goals getting converted by both the teams. Immediately into the quarter, Kalinga Lancers got another penalty corner but missed out again as Dabang goalie saved easily for his team. In the 42nd minute when Dabang bagged one more penalty corner on their name, it was Harmanpreet Singh who came forward to flick. He made no mistake in ensuring it was hit hard past the goalkeeper, scoring the second goal for his team. The same minute saw Kalinga Lancers, Mohd Amir Khan score for his team by deflecting the ball with a subtle touch past the goalkeeper and opening the score for his team. The goal gave a new lease of life to Kalinga Lancers as they felt they still had a chance to get back into the game and the quarter ended 2-1 with Dabang Mumbai leading.
The fourth and final quarter yet again saw good attacks and good chances to convert but both teams failed to capitalize on the opportunities. Dabang Mumbai won their first match of the Hero Hockey India League 2015 and bagging full five points and hope of making it to the semi-final stage.
Speaking during the presentation ceremony Man of the Match, Jeremy Hayward, Dabang Mumbai said “This is our first win of the tournament and it has given us a lot of learning. We will look back into this game and work on ourselves to come back strong. All departments of the game worked in tandem and resulted in us winning. We spend a lot of time together off the field which helps us gel well as a unit on the field irrespective that we do not speak the same language. We communicate with our eyes on the field and gestures which helps us in seamless coordination.”
Speaking post the loss, Jude Felix, Head Coach, Kalinga Lancers said, “We are disappointed with the loss, but the team did well in the second half and tried making a comeback. We missed on the penalty corners and should have converted them. We missed the presence of Gurjinder Singh today. It is a big surprise to see the way we are losing post starting the tournament on a high. From here we will end the season on a high and convert the opportunities that we get to score.“
Speaking on the first match win Valentin Altenburg, Head Coach, Dabang Mumbai said “It feels good to get the first win of the League. It’s a big benefit and boost when you have two great drag flickers – Tom Boon and Harmanpreet Singh in your team. Tom Boon is a very important player for us as he covers a lot of ground leaving the opponents behind. This win will give us the momentum that we were looking for. From here the League is entering the last phase of the tournament and every match becomes important for us.”
Hero Goal of the Match – Jeremy Hayward, Dabang Mumbai
Man of the Match – Jeremy Hayward, Dabang Mumbai
Next Match: February 10, 2015, 19.00hrs IST – Ranchi Rays vs Jaypee Punjab Warriors (Ranchi)
The match will be telecast LIVE on Star Sports