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Rediff.com  » Sports » Hockey India League: Middleton brace sinks Mumbai

Hockey India League: Middleton brace sinks Mumbai

January 24, 2015 22:13 IST

Ranchi Rays players celebrate a goal against Dabang Mumbai during their Hockey India League match at the Mumbai Hockey Assocation stadium in Mumbai on Saturday

Ranchi Rays players celebrate a goal against Dabang Mumbai during their Hockey India League match at the Mumbai Hockey Assocation stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Photograph: PTI

England's Barry Middleton scored twice in the third quarter, to pilot Ranchi Rays to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Dabang Mumbai in their Hockey India League encounter at the Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.

Mumbai took the lead through Belgian forward Tom Boon in the 8th minute of the third quarter after a goalless first half of play, which was neutralised two minutes later by Middleton with a short range effort.

Middleton then scored the match-winner in the 45th minute of play before Ranchi kept the Mumbai attackers at bay in the last quarter to emerge victorious.

It was the visitors’ first win in two games after their 3-6 loss to Kalinga Lancers two days ago while for Mumbai, who drew 3-3 with last year's runners-up Jaypee Punjab Warriors on Friday, it was their first loss in two games.

Having played their first match on Friday, Mumbai showed signs of fatigue against Ranchi on Saturday, playing at a slow pace.

Ranchi took control of the proceedings for the major part of the first two quarters and made several forays into the Mumbai half, whose defense held firm.

Barring a few moves down the right flank, Mumbai were hardly in the picture in the first two quarters. They also wasted a penalty corner award. Their star player, Australian Glenn Turner, was largely inconspicuous in the opening half before making his presence felt much later.      Ranchi, who combined better than their rivals with Manpreet Singh catching the eye in midfield with his incisive passes, was awarded two short corners, but failed to make any impression with both of them and the score stood goalless at the halfway stage of the game.

A Dabang Mumbai player (left) is challenged by a Ranchi Rays playerPTI

A Dabang Mumbai player (left) is challenged by a Ranchi Rays player. Photograph: PTI

The beginning of the third quarter saw the game pick up pace and as a consequence both defenses were put under more pressure.

The deadlock was broken and it was Mumbai who scored first when their star forward Boon scored a fine goal with a powerful scoop from just inside the striking circle to sound the board.

Two minutes later, in the tenth minute, Ranchi found the equaliser when Barry Middleton lay in wait near the left post to push the ball in after it came to him off the upright.

He doubled the lead in the 45th minute of the game with a superb reverse-hit to the right of Mumbai custodian David Harte after some shoddy work by the home team’s defense.

Mumbai tried their best in the last quarter in quest of their equaliser but Ranchi held firm.

Mumbai’s best chance to draw level came when Vikas Pillay hit a stiff shot from the top of the 'D' which was stopped brilliantly with his outstretched right foot by Ranchi goalie Lovell Tyler.

Ranchi coach Harendra Singh lavished praise on India international Manpreet.

"He is Virat Kohli of Indian hockey," said Harendra.

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