Dabang Mumbai’s opening match saw the Alphas go down 4-2 narrowly to home team Kalinga Lancers. Florian Fuchs gave the visitors the lead, but 2 goals in the span of 6 minutes made sure the Lancers won their first match at home.
Jay Stacy selected Fuchs to lead the line alongside Affan Yousuf and Gurjant Singh. Captain Matthew Swann started in defence alongside Harmanpreet Singh and Gurmail Singh in front of David Harte for the Alphas. The Lancers started with their hero from last match, Glenn Turner with Moritz Fuerste captaining the side and Aussie Andrew Charter between the posts.
David Harte stars in the first half
The first quarter started with both teams looking to keep possession while making sure they had numbers in defence. The first circle penetration came the Lancers’ way in the 5th minute, but experienced Indian international Danish Mujtaba helped out his defenders and took the ball to safety. A couple of minutes later, the Alphas found their groove by maintaining constant pressure on the Lancers by keeping the ball in their half, but the final pass was lacking.
The team in blue defended for the final couple of minutes in the first half as Fuchs stayed at the halfway line looking to hit the home team on the counter. The hooter went for the end of the first quarter soon after as the visitors were left with Harte to thank for keeping the scoreline level. The first half saw the visitors with 53% of the possession and 4 circle penetrations in contrast to 5 by the Lancers.
The first major action of the second quarter happened when the ball hit Diwakar Ram’s foot in front of the goal, which the umpire did not see. However, the home team referred and won a penalty corner – the first of the match. Gurjinder Singh’s resulting drag-flick was kicked away by the Irish goalkeeper.
On the other end of the pitch, skipper Swann found Andrew Philpott with just Charter to beat, but the defender failed to get a decent touch on the ball as the home team survived. Fuchs was the next to try his hand at goal as his reverse hit from the left side sailed agonizingly wide of the post. Affan Yousuf was sliding in at the far post, but he was just a second late to flick the ball in.
Harte was once again in action in the final minute of the half, when he made a quick double save to ensure the teams ended the half goalless. It was an exhilirating end to the half, which saw both teams going neck and neck with the home team edging the circle penetrations 10 to 7. Both the coaches would be happy with their teams’ display in the opening half with just the final touch missing from both teams’ artillery.
HT: Kalinga Lancers 0-0 Dabang Mumbai
An action packed second half
Glenn Turner pushed the ball back to signal the start of the second half. The away team won their first penalty corner 4 minutes into the second half. However, the drag flick was too high and the umpire deemed it dangerous. However, the Lancers could not deny the Alphas for long as Florian Fuchs opened the scoring at Bhubaneshwar in the very next minute. Gurjant Singh’s reverse hit was saved by Charter, but the ball fell kindly for Fuchs, who swept it home to give the visitors the lead.
GOAL! 35’ Kalinga Lancers 0-2 Dabang Mumbai: Florian Fuchs (FG)
5 minutes later, the Lancers had a golden chance to reduce the deficit when they won a penalty corner, but Harte was at it again with a brilliant save. The Alphas won a short corner of their own, but Harmanpreet’s drag-flick was saved with ease by Charter. In the final minute of the quarter, Adam Dixon levelled the score when he ran through the Dabang defence and his shot went in off a deflection from Vikas Sharma’s foot. The end of the 3rd quarter was signalled soon after.
GOAL! 45’ Kalinga Lancers 2-2 Dabang Mumbai: Adam Dixon (FG)
The fourth quarter saw the visitors spurn their third penalty corner, this time due to failure to trap the ball at the edge of the circle. In the 51st minute, Fuerste made a brilliant run and found himself in front of goal with just Harte to beat. However, the most expensive player in the tournament selflessly crossed the ball for the tournament topscorer, Glenn Turner, who gladly applied the finishing touches and completed the turnaround for the home team.
GOAL! 51’ Kalinga Lancers 4-2 Dabang Mumbai: Glenn Turner (FG)
Dabang Mumbai kept on pushing till the end, especially with Fuchs carrying the ball, but they were unable to find that crucial goal to draw the match. The visitors entered the opposition’s circle 16 times, while their defensive circle was penetrated 4 times more.
With this result, Kalinga Lancers got their first win in 2 attempts, which helped them move to second spot while the Alphas will have to wait for 3 more days to get their first win of the tournament when they travel to Punjab to face Jaypee Punjab Warriors.Published 21 Jan 2016, 19:38 IST