Ranchi Rays 1-0 Dabang Mumbai: Alphas lose in a thrilling encounter
The Alphas were the best team in the match but failed to beat a resolute Rays defence
Dabang Mumbai gave a spirited performance and dominated the possession against the league leaders Ranchi Rays at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in the capital city of Jharkhand but failed to score a goal as the defending champions went on to win the match courtesy of a penalty corner from Ashley Jackson.
Jay Stacy made just one change from the Alphas’ loss against Jaypee Punjab Warriors as Johan Bjorkman came in for Andrew Philpott.
The match started at a blistering pace as both the teams came out all guns blazing. However, none of them were able to really test the goalkeepers in the first quarter, except a one-off chance. The Alphas defended stoutly and broke out swiftly on attacks, with Affan Yousuf troubling the Rays defence with his mazy runs but were unable to break the deadlock.
In the third minute of the second quarter, the Alphas were reduced to ten men for two minutes after Vikas Sharma was shown a green card by the referee. Yousuf was a constant threat for the Ranchi defenders, he forced the opposition goalkeeper Tyler Lovell into a save in the sixth minute of the quarter. However, the scintillating first half which the Dabang Mumbai team dominated ended with the scoreboard unperturbed.
Though the Alphas are currently the bottom placed team in the league and Ranchi the league leaders, the first half never looked like a match between teams from two extreme ends of the league table.
Ranchi Rays’ Sarvanjit Singh was given a green card by the referee two minutes into the third quarter. Soon after a penalty corner decision in the favour of Dabang Mumbai was overruled by the video umpire, the Rays earned the first penalty corner of the match in the fifth minute of the quarter and Ashley Jackson converted the penalty corner to score his fourteenth goal of the tournament.
GOAL! 35’ Ranchi Rays 1-0 Dabang Mumbai: Ashley Jackson (PC)
The Alphas came back strong and earned a penalty corner themselves in the eighth minute but Jeremy Hayward was not able to keep the shot down. They maintained the pressure on the Rays and, as a result, earned their second penalty corner of the match but Lovell made two back to back saves to keep the Alphas at bay.
The fourth quarter was again dominated by the Dabang Mumbai as they kept constructing attack after attack. The constant circle penetrations meant they earned a penalty corner in the tenth minute of the half. The shot struck a Rays defender on the leg and referee signalled for another penalty corner but Lovell denied the Alphas again.
Florian Fuchs made a great run from the right flank in the penultimate minute of the match which earned the Alphas another penalty corner. The Dabang Mumbai team tried to score a field goal but the Rays defence made a desperate clearance to deny the Alphas.
The hooter went soon after which meant that Ranchi Rays extended their lead on top of the table. The Alphas will now face Uttar Pradesh on 16th February with the Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium in Mumbai.