Ashley Jackson stars in Ranchi Rays’ magnificent win over UP Wizards
Unlike previous matches, there was no barrage of goals or a hat-trick, but still everyone remained on their toes as the Ranchi Rays clinched a clinical 1-0 win over the Uttar Pradesh Wizards to cement second position in the Hockey India League at Astroturf Hockey Stadium, Ranchi.
Ranchi skipper Ashley Jackson was the only goal scorer of the game and with his all-round play, along with Kothajit Singh, helped the home side in clinching all five points from the tie.
It is rarely seen that a low-scoring game turns out to be a thriller, but it was one of those days. Both teams had their shares of opportunities, but it was Ranchi that used them to their advantage and won the encounter.
In the opening quarter of the tie, both Ranchi and the Wizards got opportunities to score none of them managed to score. The deadlock was finally broken by Ranchi in the 18th minute by Jackson, who increased his goal-scoring tally to seven.
On a penalty corner, Ranchi did a smart variation by not taking the hit straightaway, rather holding the ball and wait for the right time. And, their gamble paid off, when Jackson, who was holding the ball on the left side, fired it past PR Sreejesh.
Moments later, Ranchi again got the penalty corner on a smart work of Mandeep Singh, but a thunderous run from VR Raghunath deflected Jackson’s shot. Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, also got the opening to level the game, but Ranchi goalkeeper Tyler Lovell denied them.
Lovell was also one of the standout performers for Ranchi and some fine saves for his team, likewise Sreejesh, on the opposite end, also made some breath-taking saves. Kothajit also denied the visitors from levelling the game as the hosts held on to their slender advantage.
In the final few minutes of play, Mandeep and the rest of Ranchi team displayed determination and protected the one-goal advantage quite well. They went into the shell and kept the possession and didn’t allow the Wizards to make any move whatsoever.