The hosts Ranchi Rays edged past table toppers Jaypee Punjab Warriors by 3-2 to become 2nd team to confirm their place in semi-finals of Hero Hockey India League 2015. It was an extraordinary contest between two top teams in front of jam-packed Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi, Ranchi.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors conceded an early goal in the 13th minute and the second goal in the 45th minute leaving them trailing the game 2-0. Jaypee Punjab Warriors finally made a come-back in the game by leveling the scores 2-2 in the fourth quarter, but wasting no time Ranchi Rays came back strong and scored the third goal and went on to win the game. Post the match, both Ranchi Rays and Jaypee Punjab Warriors are locked at 29 points at the points table.
The first quarter produced frenetic action, with both the teams struggling to splinter the defence of the other team. Ranchi Rays seized an early initiative and opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute when the team earned a penalty corner. Ashley Jackson drag flicked and was saved by the Punjab goalie but Parvinder Singh scored on the rebound, helping his team take the early lead in the game. With 1-0 on the scoreboard, Ranchi Rays was leading at the end of first quarter.
Ranchi Rays took control of the proceedings for the major part of the first two quarters and made several forays into the Jaypee Punjab Warriors’s half whose defense held firm. As both the teams played the game aggressively and kept the pressure alive, none of the team members were able to seize the opportunity and the score remained in favour of Ranchi Rays 1-0 at the end of first half.
With the change of ends, the game became more intense with Jaypee Punjab Warriors struggling for a much-needed equalizer. Although, the two teams tried creating chances into each other’s D, Jaypee Punjab Warriors managed a penalty corner opportunity but Bharat Chetri playing the replacement of Jaap Stockman in this match, saved for his team.
With the passing time, Ranchi Rays switched on its attacking mode as another beautiful piece of play was displayed by Ashley Jackson who successfully converted a penalty corner in the 45th minute and added another magnificent goal to his name.
While Ranchi Rays soaked up everything that was thrown at them, Jaypee Punjab Warriors finally made a comeback and showcased its better side by scoring two goals in three minutes. In search of opening their scorecard, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Agustin Mazzilli surged ahead and sneaked past the goal post through a field effort and opened the score card for his team in 47th minute. This was followed by another beautiful field goal by Satbir Singh who made a monster strike for Jaypee Punjab Warriors in 49th minute, leveling the score to 2-2.
But this equalizer was short-lived as in the 51st minute Ranchi Rays struck their third goal, coming from the stick of Stanli Minz and taking the score to 3-2. With this, an exceptional game of Hero Hockey India League ended in a nail-biting finish where Ranchi Rays won the match against Jaypee Punjab Warriors 3-2.
Man of the Match and Captain, Ranchi Rays, Ashley Jackson said, “Fantastic to get a win in the last game in front of our home crowd. It is a psychological advantage winning the game against them today before the semi-final and finals stage.”
Speaking on the win, Head Coach Harendra Singh, Ranchi rays said “Jaypee Punjab Warriors have a good defence. The game came alive in the fourth quarter and while they played well in that quarter but we gave them equal fight. We are looking forward to our next match and we will learn from our mistakes today. MS Dhoni sends us a good luck message before every match to go for the kill. We as a team are improving with each game and this is positive for us.”
Head Coach Barry Dancer, Jaypee Punjab Warriors said “They played very well. We will change our strategy for the next match against them and come back strong. We created a lot of opportunities in this match but we failed to convert the crucial goals. My team is playing excellent in this tournament and we need to keep this going”.
Hero Goal of the Match – Satbir Singh, Jaypee Punjab Warriors
Man of the Match – Ashley Jackson, Ranchi Rays
Next Match: February 11, 2015, 19.00hrs IST – Dabang Mumbai vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards (Mumbai)
The match will be telecast LIVE on Star Sports