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Veerans score silver goal win
January 14, 2006 18:35 IST
Chennai Veerans huffed and puffed before brushing aside a strong challenge from Lucknow Nawabs and winning 3-2 via a silver goal in Tier II of the Premier Hockey League, at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Scoring against the run of play, Nawabs went ahead in the 10th minute, surprising Veerans with a fast turn over. They earned their first penalty-corner in the process and successfully converted it with a clever variation to post the lead.
Shekhar Mishra sold a dummy and Cyril Ekka took the first shot which went wide of the far post and Prateek Srivastav dashed in to deflect home in a flash giving no chance to Chennai custodian PR Sreejesh.
Buoyed by the goal, Nawabs played with lot of enthusiasm, with Cyril Ekka, Hamza Mujtaba and Prateek mounting pressure on the rival defence with dangerous moves but the Chennai defence, manned effectively by Alfred Asir and Baljinder Singh, stood their ground. They were ably assisted by Raghunath and Sivabalan later on.
The Veerans too made a determined bid to gain the upper hand. They moved the ball well from midfield to attack and completely dominated the second quarter. Ramesh, Raghunath and Vikram Kanth were prominent in the midfield, moving up to support the attack and falling back to aid the defence. Adam Sinclair and Raja worked hard in the attack but failed to get the desired results.
However, in the 25th minute Veerans restored parity with well-coordinated switch from the defence to attack. Raghunath sent a long diagonal aerial ball to Ramesh in the rival 25-yard area and the veteran midfielder sent a centre to an unmarked Venkatesh, who banged into the boards from the top of the circle. (1-1)
Thereafter, Veerans earned four penalty-quarters in the second quarter but failed to take the lead with Nawabs sorting out prolific scorer Raghunath. The second penalty-corner, in the 21st minute, was thwarted by first runner Aftab Ahmed while Nawabs` goalie Raziuddin made a brilliant diving stick save from the third, in the 27 th minute.
Raziuddin came to the team`s rescue again in the 28th minute. He palmed away a powerful Raghu flick and recovered quickly to pad the rebound from Raja.
Later, Aftab once again was in the thick of action denying Raghu a goal with his fast sprint during the fifth penalty-corner.
Veerans, however, continued to apply pressure on the rival defence and shot ahead in the 49th minute through another penalty-corner. This time too, Raghunath`s grounder was blocked by the goalie but an alert Adam Sinclair, who took the push, scored from the rebound. (2-1)
With time running out, Lucknow made a concerted effort to score the equalizer and succeeded four minutes from the hooter when an attack from the right brought them a cheeky goal.
Despite goalkeeper Sreejesh`s hoarse warning to cover the unmarked Hamza Mujtaba at the other end of the circle, Veerans left him alone and paid the penalty.
Kamlesh sent a defence-splitting cross from the right corner to the other end and Hamza, who was positioned well, made a clean stop and sent in a sizzling shot into the boards (2-2) to push the match into the extra-time.
Veerans earned their seventh penalty-corner during this period and converted it to post the match-winner but not before losing one crucial point.
According to PHL rules, the winner in the extra-time gets two points and the loser one. Raghunath again took the drag flick but goalie Raziuddin blocked it. But Ashwin rushed in and scooped home from the rebound seal the issue.