There was finally redemption for the embattled Ric Charlesworth as the Mumbai Magicians stormed to a commanding 4-0 win over the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, their first, in an eighth round match of the Hockey India League at the Mahindra Stadium tonight.
It was a deserving win for the local lads as they dominated every department of play while also keeping their opponents, coached by the equally legendary Roelant Oltmans, at bay in a clash between the two bottom placed teams.
Three of Mumbai’s goals came from the five penalty corners they forced, two by Sandeep Singh in the third and fourth quarters, the last coming when UP had pulled out their goalkeeper while Jonny Jasrotia converted a set piece in the first session when Sandeep was not on the pitch. Jason Wilson scored a field goal in the 46th minute to round off the tally.
The win takes Mumbai to 12 points and adds hope to their campaign to make the last four though they still languish in the cellar. UP are in fourth place with 17 points and need to pull up their socks if they are not to be overtaken by the hosts.
It was a standout performance by the Mumbai defence in which Joel Carroll, left-half Matthew Butturini and goalkeeper and man of the match P R Sreejesh stood out while Chinglesana Singh and the hard running Faisal Saari made themselves useful upfront.
Mumbai had the measure of the opening session except for a scare in the early minutes when Sreejesh had to come to the rescue with two consecutive saves. Thereafter, they kept the UP attackers at a safe distance by marshalling the midfield well and retaining possession while threatening the rival goal with their sporadic forays, mainly along the right flank.
The hosts took the lead in the first session when Jasrotia made the most of Mumbai’s first penalty corner despite the absence of tournament top scorer Sandeep (11 goals) on the pitch, by sounding the boards off the stick of a defender for his first goal of the tournament. A few minutes earlier, he was the villain as he missed a cross from the right with only goalkeeper George Bazeley at his mercy.
The Oz custodian made plenty of saves to keep the tally down but he should have prevented Sandeep from finding the mark for the third goal as the ball was within his reach.
UP had got a grip on the game in the second session but not much look at goal as the Mumbai defence played resolutely, though Sreejesh had to come to the rescue by palming away a tomahawk shot by Teun de Nooijer. Minutes later, Jeroen Hertzberger’s reverse hit cross from the left went abegging with nobody to connect.
Wilson increased the lead in the third quarter when he collected a long defence splitting hit from his own defence by Matthew Swann and bundled the ball in at the second opportunity, making the most of mix-up in the UP backline. Then it was Sandeep all the way as he recorded a brace to wrap up the first win for the hosts after seven consecutive losses.