The day started with Mumbai Magicians finally getting their first win and the match was important for the Waveriders as they had the chance to become the first team to book a semi-final birth in the inaugural Hockey India League. The Waveriders had notched up a convincing win over the Warriors last night. They seemed to be taking this match easily when they took to the field and the young and agile Rhinos made them pay when Ashley Jackson set up Justin Reid Ross to fire in the Rhinos’ first goal of the night.
The goal came as a welcome reminder to the WaveRiders that Ranchi were not to be taken lightly and Delhi stepped up their game with coach AK Bansal furious at the team’s performance up to that point in the match. Ranchi, however, looked the better side as they were comfortable in possession and were time and again making dangerous intrusions into the Waverider’s penalty area. The first quarter ended with the Rhinos leading by a solitary goal and looking strong to finally topple Delhi. The second half saw a resurgent Delhi team control proceedings with the in-form midfield duo of Sardara Singh and Tim Jenniskens finally making their presence felt. Delhi immediately equalised when a well-orchestrated move ended with goal-keeper Sushant Tirkey parrying the ball inside his own goal to make it 1-1.
The Rhinos were not looking to draw the match and soon started waves after waves of attack into Delhi’s penalty box. Keeper Nicholas Jacobi however was in top form and was not about to let anything slip past him easily. He made a string of fine saves to keep the home team in the game and the teams went into the half with the scores level.
The third quarter had free flowing hockey all around, as both teams went for the goal and the fans witnessed some breathtaking hockey at both ends. Although Delhi fans might feel aggrieved by the fact that their team was regularly missing easy chances and strikers Yuvraj Walmiki and Norris Jones were certainly not in the best of form. On the other hand, the team’s defence was finding it very tough to stop Birendra Lakra string together some beautiful passes in the midfield and the Rhinos were always looking dangerous going forward. The home-team though, finally delivered when Walmiki deflected a waywardly hit ball by Simon Child into the net and it seemed that the experienced Delhi team would again hold on for the win.
The Rhinos however had other plans and began attacking with more vigour in the final quarter. The move paid off as Floris Evers struck a beautiful goal to make the scores 2-2. This was incidentally his first goal of the tournament. The final minutes were nervous for the home side as Sardara was cautioned with a Green Card for the final three minutes (his second of the match). The Rhinos gave it their all but just could not conjure up another goal and the match ended at 2-2.
The draw meant Delhi have now confirmed their place in the semi-finals and in the process, have become the first team to do so. Ranchi meanwhile consolidated their second-place position and also look on course to move to the semi-finals.
Final Score : Delhi(Tirkey-OG,Walmiki) 2-2 Ranchi(Reid Ross,Evers)
Man of the Match : Nicholas Jacobi(Delhi)
Goal of the Match : Justin Reid Ross(Ranchi)