Ranchi Rays edged past Uttar Pradesh Wizards by 1-0 at their home turf, Astroturf Hockey Stadium, Morabadi (Ranchi) to stay on course for semi-final spot and rooted to second place in points table in ongoing Hero Hockey India League 2015.
With both Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards sitting with a total of 19 points after playing six matches each in the season, were seen battling it out today in Ranchi, in order to take their respective lead a notch up in the league. Where Uttar Pradesh Wizards showed a skilful game, hosts Ranchi Rays stole the show by defeating the visiting team 1-0. It was yet again Ashley Jackson who stood tall for his team and scored the sole goal for the match which helped his team register the win for the day.
The first quarter of the match started with a very calm and composed posture from both the teams, where both Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards were seen taking on each other, pretty strategically. The visiting team Uttar Pradesh Wizards kept Ranchi Rays at bay by simply holding the ball with them and creating a perfect ‘passing’ play in the match, as their ball possession rate touched over 70 percent in the first quarter. Ranchi Rays on the other hand maintained their cool and restricted the Wizards from doing any damage in the game. Witnessing a challenging fight in the first 15 minutes of the game, the scoreboard remained at 0-0 with both teams unable to open their account.
Picking up pace in the second quarter of the match, both the teams were seen fighting it out to create goal scoring opportunities for themselves. It turned out to be fruitful for the Ranchi Rays when they secured a penalty corner opportunity in the 18th minute and despite a poor injection, Captain Ashley Jackson managed to score a magnificent goal, beating PR Sreejesh of Uttar Pradesh Wizards which helped Ranchi Rays take the lead in the game. Uttar Pradesh Wizards did manage to create a few opportunities, but failed to convert any and the score remained in Ranchi Rays’ favour at 1-0 by the end of the second quarter.
The third quarter of the match witnessed a much intense game, where Uttar Pradesh Wizards, were seen striving to level the scores with Ranchi Rays. The Wizards did manage to secure their second penalty corner opportunity in the match, but failed to convert. Maintaining their lead in the game, Ranchi Rays held their ground, as their defenders were at their best and turned down all the attacks coming in from the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, successfully. The third quarter saw a dry run as there were no goals scored till the end of the quarter.
A quality game continued in the fourth quarter by both Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards, as the former was striving to build on their lead and the latter fighting to match up the scores. Back to back circle penetrations by both teams filled in much excitement as the time ran down and Ranchi Rays claimed yet another competent win over Uttar Pradesh Wizards, this time by 1-0 on the scoreboard.
Speaking on the win, Head Coach Harendra Singh of Ranchi Rays said, “As a team we did a very good job and our defenders performed brilliantly today. I won’t say we played extremely well against a competitive team but team-work and a bit of luck won this match for us. We are improving with every match and there are areas where we still need to work on. The boys are now very much motivated after this win and we are confident to play even better in upcoming matches.”
Speaking on the performance today, Ranchi Rays’ Captain Ashley Jackson said, “I would say we didn’t play the best game today but there was good team play and we are happy to have won the match. We created many chances but failed to materialise them into goals. We have to work on our weaknesses and improve our game. Our next match against Jaypee Punjab Warriors will be tougher and we will work harder for the match.”
Speaking after the loss, Head Coach Roelant Oltmans of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “We played well today and we were there very much in the game but we failed to score goals which cost us the match. We had opportunities but could not convert them. Players were in good shape and team combination is pretty good. We would say we were unlucky in today’s match. We will look on the mistakes we committed in the match and will work on it. We will make a good come back in the next match against Dabang Mumbai.”
Speaking after the match, Captain Wouter Jolie of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “We played well today but could not score a goal. We missed many opportunities and this match is a good lesson for us. It’s frustrating after playing good but did not yield a positive result for the team. We will work on the areas where we lacked today and we are now looking forward to our next match.”
Hero Goal of the Match – Ashley Jackson (Ranchi Rays)
Man of the Match – Kothajit Singh (Ranchi Rays)
Next Match 10 February 2015 at 1900hrs IST – Ranchi Rays Vs. Jaypee Punjab Warriors (Ranchi)