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HIL: Mumbai go down to Lancers after grand fight-back

Mumbai: Dabang Mumbai made a splendid recovery from 0-4 down to draw level with Kalinga Lancers before a timely field goal by the visitors buried their hopes of a maiden win as they went down 4-6 in a Hockey India League match (HIL) here yesterday.

Kalinga Lancers' Gurjinder Singh (right) celebrates after scoring against Dabang Mumbai during their Hockey India League match at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate yesterday. Lancers handed Mumbai their fourth straight loss, beating them 6-4. Pic/Atul Kamble
Kalinga Lancers' Gurjinder Singh (right) celebrates after scoring against Dabang Mumbai during their Hockey India League match at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate yesterday. Lancers handed Mumbai their fourth straight loss, beating them 6-4. Pic/Atul Kamble

Wasting scores of chances, including from the field and off penalty corners, Mumbai let in two penalty corner goals from Gurjinder Singh and Adam Dixon to trail 0-2 at half-time. Later a brilliant field goal, which is counted as two, from Lalit Upadhyay saw Lancers lead by a big 4-0 margin in the third quarter.

Mumbai then rode on successive field goals from their star German striker Florian Fuchs and Gurjant Singh, in the third and in the fourth quarter, to level the scores.

However, Mumbai allowed Quirijn Caspers a free run by going on an all-out attack to score the match-winner only to concede a costly field goal in the 55th minute to trail 4-6. Despite making some desperate efforts in the closing stages, the hosts could not draw level and went down to their fourth loss in as many matches.

Lancers, on the other hand, recorded their third win from five games. Mumbai made a lot of penetrative moves in the second quarter after the goalless first, but lacked ideas inside the 'D' while squandering one penalty corner opportunity to add to the two they earned in the opening quarter.

Whereas the Lancers made their first two penalty corners awards count with some clever variations to take a 2-0 lead over the home team.

Lancers' India international Gurjinder Singh provided his side the lead in the 20th minute of the game when he scooped the ball in after receiving the pass from captain Moritz Fuerste who sold the dummy to the rival defenders.

Six minutes later it was the Lancers captain again who hit the ball to Adam Dixon for the Briton to notch his second goal of the tournament with a superb goal-bound deflection that beat David Harte under the Mumbai bar.

Mumbai made several moves in the first half but were foiled by some excellent defending by the Lancers, including custodian Andrew Charter.

The match looked virtually over as a contest when India international Lalit Upadhyay applied the finishing touch with a diving deflection to a superb goalmouth pass provided by Glenn Turner after the veteran Australian forward had hoodwinked a couple of defenders with deft stick-work.

But Mumbai fought back to reduce the lead by two with a superb field goal by their German striker Fuchs who deflected in a through pass from Dylan Wotherspoon.

At the end of three quarters, Lancers led Mumbai 4-2. Then came another superb field goal by Gurjant Singh off a centre from the right to help Mumbai draw level early in the last quarter as they went all out for goals.

But the player also muffed a simple goal after a goalmouth melee following a centre from the right flank as his try sailed just wide of the far post.

It was a costly miss as Lancers punished the home team with a field goal to take a handy 6-4 lead with five minutes left on the clock.

A lovely defense-splitting down-the-middle through pass by Moritz to a totally unmarked Caspers saw the latter easily beating Mumbai's second goal keeper Krishan Pathak, who had replaced Harte after the visitors had taken a 4-0 lead.

Mumbai will take on defending champions Ranchi Rays in their next home game here on February 3 while the Lancers will clash with Delhi Wave Riders in their home venue, Bhubaneshwar, on February 5.

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