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Namdhari, MPT in last 16
Our Correspondent | March 04, 2004 20:43 IST
Namdhari XI of Ludhiana and Mumbai Port Trust progressed to the pre-quarter-finals of the Bombay Hockey Association-organised 42nd Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament, jointly sponsored by Union Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank, at the BHA-Mahindra stadium in Mumbai, on Thursday.
The MPT outfit was not great by any standards and unable to attack with the same fluency of their northern opponents, who enjoyed a major share of the exchanges. But they fought on gamely, defend stoutly and capitalised on the chances that came their way to emerge winners.
Full-back Sridhar Krishnamurty put the home side in front in the third minute, when his firm hit from their first penalty-corner went in off a defender's stick.
Stung by the early reverse, the army outfit regrouped, repeatedly raided the rival goal and found success in the 19th minute through Palwainder Singh, who scored off a Harwinder Singh diagonal pass from the right.
But MPT regained the lead against the run of play when Osaf ur Rehman neatly turned in to goal Digvijay Naik's diagonal hit into the striking circle minutes before half-time.
Sikh Regiment Centre came back with renewed vigour after the lemon break and came up with a number darting runs at the rival goal but all their efforts came to naught as MPT defended doggedly.
MPT custodian Jahangir Shaikh also proved a hard nut to crack as he made a number fine saves to restrict the Delhi outfit to just one goal.
Earlier in the afternoon, Namdhari XI had things well under control against the All India Customs side, whose approach was negative. The Customs side also did not show any kind of urgency and totally lacked motivation.
Namdhari took off in grand fashion when Sardar Singh got a deft touch to steer a Gurpreet Singh's powerful push from the left into the goal and open the scoring in the fourth minute.
Namdhari continued to enjoy territorial advantage but failed to add to the score sheet in the first half.
However, after the change of ends, they continued in the same vien and doubled the lead in the 37th minute through Gurpreet Singh, who converted a penalty stroke.
Umpire Ranjit Dalvi awarded the 'stroke' when Customs defender stick-checked Sardar Singh in front of an open goal.
Didar Singh (Sr), the inspiration in the Namdhri team, produced a peach of a goal to knock the fight out of Customs in the 53rd minute. He picked up Gurcharan Singh's forward pass near the 25-yard line on the right flank, advanced towards the Customs goal and, with a neat body feint, beat defender Boppana before sounding the boards with a crisp angular crack, giving Customs goalkeeper Anson Thomas no chance.
Down and out, Customs managed to score a consolation goal when Ajay Ayappa tapped in Anup Anthony's push across the goal following a Rahul Singh free hit from the left.
Namdhari meet Air India, while MPT take on Western Railway in pre-quarter-final matches on Saturday.