Barry Middleton inspired Ranchi Rays clinch maiden win in Hockey India League
England skipper Barry Middleton scored a brace for the Ranchi Rays, as the visitors managed to clinch their maiden win in the Hockey India League, beating Dabang Mumbai 2-1 today at the Mahindra Stadium, Mumbai.
It was an evenly contested match and the result could have gone either way, but the visitors managed to keep their lead intact in a gripping encounter. This loss means Mumbai will have to wait a touch long for their first win in the competition.
The almost full-capacity crowd was thoroughly entertained in the second-half, after seeing both teams missing a number of scoring opportunities in the opening thirty minutes. Dabang Mumbai broke the deadlock in the third quarter when Belgian international Tom Boon opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Their joy, however, was short-lived as Middleton levelled the scores moments after the opening goal.
Middleton to the rescue
Middleton was again on target minutes later, which turned out to be the winning goal for the visiting team. The Rays could have had one more before the end of the third quarter, but David Harte made a superb save.
The fourth quarter, again, was exciting as both teams pressed for goals, as Mumbai was searching for the equaliser while Ranchi was looking to increase their lead. However, the fourth quarter ended goalless, despite both teams having many scoring chances.
Ranchi Rays’ Kiwi recruit Justin Reid-Ross had a game to forget as the New Zealander failed to convert even a single penalty corner. On the other hand, goalkeeper Francisco Cortes made some stunning saves for the Rays and also stopped a couple of penalty corner hits from Boon.
Earlier, in the opening half, both teams tried to score but were without much success. Even though they had decent scoring chances, some fine goalkeeping and mishits prevented them from ticking the scoresheets.
The Ranchi Rays, playing in yellow, dominated the proceedings while the hosts kept their defence intact and didn’t allow Ashley Jackson’s men to capitalise on the superior ball possession and circle penetrations.