Mumbai: Dabang Mumbai shrugged off four consecutive defeats to outclass table toppers Ranchi Rays 7-5 and pocket five crucial points in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
Dabang Mumbai's Florian Fuchs (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against defending champions Ranchi Rays at the MHAL-Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate yesterday. Mumbai ended their losing streak after they registered a 7-5 win over Rays. Pic/Atul Kamble
Despite the loss, Ranchi maintain their top spot with 22 points from six games with four wins and two losses, while Mumbai, despite the win, are still at the bottom of the table with nine points from five games, having won one and lost four.
The match started as a one-sided contest as the home side was in attack mode, playing some fast hockey to put pressure early on the opponent.
Mumbai were rewarded with two back-to-back penalty corners in the fourth and fifth minute respectively, but some good goalkeeping by Ranchi keeper Tyler Lovell denied the hosts the chance to take the lead.
But the hosts made the best use of the third penalty corner in the ninth minute to take a 1-0 lead in the tenth minute. As the ball came in Harmanpreet Singh tried to spin the ball which went to Diwakar Ram, and the latter did not miss a chance to drag it straight into the right corner.
From there on both the sides went into first break with Mumbai leading 1-0.
The second quarter saw some fierce battles between the sides with the visitors looking to find their first goal of the evening. Just four minutes into the quarter, Ranchi skipper Ashley Jackson made the best use of a penalty corner as he dragged the ball to the right corner of the net to level things 1-1.
Mumbai immediately responded with some serious attacking play upfront as Gurjant Singh guided the ball from the left to skipper Matthew Swann, who sent the ball in with no problem to earn a field goal and thus make it 3-1 in their favour.
But to the surprise of the home fans, Mumbai's Affan Yousuf was given a red card in the 30th minute for hitting a Ranchi defender intentionally with the stick. This caused the home side to play with ten men in the third and fourth quarter.
Coming into the third and penultimate quarter, Mumbai lost a golden chance to make it 4-1 as Harmanpreet Singh failed to beat the Ranchi goalie while taking a penalty stroke in the 35th minute.
The visitors came back strongly in the 38th minute after Sarvanjit Singh sounded the board with a field goal to make it 3-3.
In the 41st minute, Ranchi skipper Jackson converted yet another penalty corner into a goal to make it 4-3.
The third quarter saw even more exciting play as Mumbai responded right away as home skipper Swann found Nilakanta Sharma who finished it off brilliantly to make it 5-4 in favour of Mumbai.
Just after the start of the fourth quarter, Ranchi failed to score off a penalty corner and Mumbai took the opportunity in the 49th minute and with some outstanding counter attacking play earned a field goal to make it 7-4 in their favour.
Skipper Swann fed Florian Fuchs perfectly with a good cross from the right and a stretched Fuchs completed a brilliant field goal with a deflection.
But in the dying minutes of the game (58th minute), Ranchi's Sandeep Singh made it 7-5 via a penalty corner.
Ranchi peppered the home goal with some desperate attempts at the death, including a penalty corner but Jay Stacy's wards stood their ground to bag their maiden win.
Mumbai next face Uttar Pradesh Wizards on February 6 in their fourth match at home while Ranchi will take on Kalinga Lancers on February 8 in Bhubaneswar.