Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dabur Mumbai Magicians finish HIL campaign on a high, edge out UP Wizards 3-2

Dabur Mumbai Magicians wrapped up their 2nd Hero Hockey India League campaign on a winning note, brushing aside the challenge of Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in Lucknow.

The Magicians weathered severe pressure from the Wizards, who forced three consecutive penalty corners in the dying minutes of the game thanks to some feisty goalkeeping from PR Sreejesh. The win allowed the Magicians to avoid the wooden spoon and finish the league in fifth spot with 18 points from ten games, with debutants Kalinga Lancers being bottom-placed with 17 points from as many games.

It was Magicians who held sway in the early stages and even forced their first penalty corner in the 6th minute, but Aussie Luke Doerner pulled off a goalline save. The MK Kaushik-coached Mumbai outfit kept up the offensive ways earning their second PC five minute later, but they squandered that opportunity courtesy poor trapping.

The Wizards looked menacing in the 12th minute when former Indian striker Tushar Khandker essayed a superb cross, but M Gunasekar failed to deflect home. Gunasekar again messed up a scoring chance in the 20th minute when he failed to tap home off a team-mate’s pass.

The Roelant Oltmans-coached side, however, atoned for those slip-ups upfront when gangling Nithin Thimmaiah rattled the Magicians’ cage in the 21st minute. The Magicians refused to get bogged down by the opening goal and restored parity through their third penalty corner after Gurjinder Singh unleashed a fierce drag-flick after the set-piece was engineered by Bharat Chhikara.

The Mumbai outfit in fact, had a great opportunity to go ahead when they won their fourth short corner close to half-time, but Gurjinder Singh could not profit from it as both teams shared honours at the breaks.

The Wizards looked good to pull ahead in the second half when they earned their first PC in the 41s minute, but Luke Doerner slammed it wide. Former Indian striker Prabhjot Singh, who had a quiet 2014 HIL so far, came to the party giving Mumbai the lead in the 56th minute making the most of a fine Simon Mantell pass.

The home crowd was in for some disappointment when Australian Glenn Turner scored a magnificent goal to make the scoreline 3-1 in the 62nd minute. From trailing 0-1 in the second quarter, the Magicians mounted a superb fightback scoring thrice.

The Wizards had only eight minutes to salvage the contest and skipper Vokkaliga Raghunath converted his team’s second short corner in the 63rd minute to keep his side in the contest before their last ditch efforts went down the drain.

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