Magicians' hopes suffer a big blow

Hockey HIL

Mumbai Magicians’ chances of making it to the top four of the Hockey India League suffered a big blow on Monday, as they went down 1-2 to Ranchi Rhinos in an away game at the Astroturf Stadium here.

Goals from Ashley Jackson and Mandeep Singh were good enough to put Rhinos on level terms with Delhi Waveriders on 27 points. Magicians lost their seventh straight game, with a Sandeep Singh goal proving to be futile.  

The visitors, guilty of conceding an early goal quite often in this tournament so far, got off to the best possible start. They earned a penalty corner in the first minute of the match, and Sandeep made no mistake with his drag flick.

The Rhinos played an attacking game after going a goal down, but were unable to find an equaliser soon. The visitors earned their second penalty corner in the 10th minute, but with their specialist drag flicker Sandeep on the bench, failed to capitalise.  

The home team failed to convert four penalty corners from the 10th to 18th as the pressure piled on them.

But the equaliser eventually came in the second quarter for Rhinos in the 28th minute off their sixth penalty corner. Mandeep showed some superb skills to earn the penalty corners and this time Jackson went over Sreejesh, and his strike, hit with fierce pace, got a touch from the goalkeeper before entering the net.

The third quarter saw Magicians apply the pressure on the hosts with some consistent play. They earned two penalty corners in two minutes, but Cortes made a brilliant save on the first one, while the second one was well defended, Cortes not even being troubled on that one.

And then Rhinos delivered a blow to the visitors. Collecting the ball a little ahead of the middle, Manpreet Singh dribbled past a couple of defenders, and then smacked an absolute bullet with Mandeep getting the last touch before the ball went into the goal in the 49thminute.

Magicians missed another great opportunity to score, when they earned another penalty corner in the 62nd minute. With Sandeep being absent, Joel Carroll tried a variation, but Glen Turner was unable to get a touch that was required to guide the ball in the net.  Magicians threw everyone forward in search of the equaliser, but were unable to find one.

Rhinos coach Gregg Clark said, “Although we won the match I feel the team could have done better. We should have scored from the penalty corners and increased the score line. But the team has done well and we hope to keep this performance up in the future too”.

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