Mohali, 17 February 2015: Riding on the impressive hat-trick by Ashley Jackson, Ranchi Rays outplayed Jaypee Punjab Warriors by 3-2 in the League match of the ongoing Hero Hockey India League, played at International Hockey Stadium at Mohali. With this win, Coach Harendra Singh’s boys defeated Jaypee Punjab Warriors in their second tie and claimed the top position of the points-table.
Home team Jaypee Punjab Warriors started the first quarter with their aggressive attacks and fast-paced game, which kept Ranchi Rays players busy through-out the quarter. Rays’ star players Mandeep Singh and Manpreet Singh initiated their attacks in the beginning of the match but were soon thwarted by Jaypee Punjab Warriors’ defenders. The Chandigarh-based team managed to earn their first penalty corner in the ninth minute and penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh scored the first goal of the match, giving a dominating lead to his team in the first quarter. Australian drag-flicker Jake Whetton injected the ball in the D and Sandeep Singh hit the ball into the box without giving any chance to goal-keeper Tyler Lovell. The early lead in the match boosted the morale of the players and they continued their attacking game to create more chances.
Coach Barry Dancer’s team got another chance in the 15th minute when the home team earned two back-to-back penalty corners and they converted their second attempt in another goal of the match. Australian forward Kieren Govers took the first shot but was foiled by the goalie. Australian defender Christopher Ciriello received the second shot and he sent the ball straight into the net. After receiving two early jolts, Ranchi Rays could not recover in the first half and they switched into a defensive game. By the end of the first quarter, Jaypee Punjab Warriors led the match by 2-0.
In the second quarter, Coach Harendra Singh’s boys stepped-on the field with better strategies and managed to keep the ball in their control. The visitors kept charging on the opponents’ half and both the teams fought hard to dominate the quarter. Jaypee Punjab Warriors forward players SV Sunil, Whetton, Govers and Affan Yousuf tried hard to create opportunities to score more goals but they faced stiff challenge from Ranchi Rays defenders led by Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, South African Justin Reid-Ross and Australian Fergus Kavanagh. The Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team opened their account in the 26th minute when drag-flicker Manpreet Singh injected the ball in the D and skipper Ashley Jackson hit the ball hard towards the box. Dutch goal-keeper Stockmann tried to stop the ball through his left leg but his attempt went in vain and Ranchi Rays scored their first goal of the match. However, Ranchi Rays was still trailing by 1-2 by the end of second quarter.
In the third quarter, both the team came on the ground with new energy and tussled with each other to keep control of the ball. Ranchi Rays managed to earn penalty corner in the beginning of the quarter and they were looking to convert it in their second goal. Drag-flicker Manpreet Singh injected the ball and Ashley received it well. However, in the next moment, he lost control of the ball and it was snatched by first rusher Gurmail Singh. In the rest of the quarter, both the teams struggled hard to create opportunities and score more goals, but the score-line remained 2-1.
In the fourth and last quarter, players gave their best efforts for their team and played harder till the final whistle. Jaypee Punjab Warriors earned three back-to-back penalty corners but Ranchi Rays displayed their mettle and thwarted all the attempts by the home team. Jaypee Punjab Warriors kept on charging but Ranchi Rays did not allow them to run free. Ranchi Rays again earned a penalty corner and once again, Ashley scored goal for his team to equalise the score-line 2-2. Drag-flicker Manpreet injected the ball into the D which was received and smashed acutely by Ashley into the box.
The second goal lifted the morale of Ranchi Rays and they charged-on with quick passes in the last minute of the match. They earned another penalty corner and Ashley converted it in his third goal of the match. The penalty corner was repetitive of the previous one, where Manpreet perfectly injected the ball in D and Ashley sent the ball in the net by out-foxing world–class goal-keeper Stockman. With this outstanding hat-trick by Ashley in just four minutes, Ranchi Rays outplayed Jaypee Punjab Warriors second time in the Hero HIL 2015 and reached the top of the points-table with 35 points.
Speaking after the match, Jaypee Punjab Warriors Coach Barry Dancer stated, “Though we lost the match but I am very much pleased with the performance of the team. We have played better than our previous tie against Ranchi Rays and we have taken a step forward towards the Final match. We lost the match in the last moment and we accept the fact that Ranchi Rays performed better than us in penalty corners today.”
Captain of Ranchi Rays Ashley Jackson said at the presentation ceremony, “We are very happy to win our second match against Jaypee Punjab Warriors. This was still not our best game today. They were on top of us for the large part of the game but we managed to come out on the winning side. This shows the character that this team has got. We weren’t good in the first half but came out better in the second half. It was nice to see the improvement. We need to learn from today’s match which will stand us in good stead for the semi-finals. We will work hard on all the areas of improvement so that we can give a solid display in the semi finals.”
Hero Goal of the Match: Ashley Jackson, Ranchi Rays
Man of the Match: Ashley Jackson, Ranchi Rays
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