HIL: Barry Middleton brace for Ranchi sinks Mumbai

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 the Hockey India League encounter at the Mahindra Stadium here on Saturday.

HIL: Barry Middleton brace for Ranchi sinks Mumbai

Mumbai: 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 the Hockey India League encounter at the Mahindra Stadium here on Saturday.

Mumbai took the lead through their 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 yesterday, it was their first loss in two games.

The match was played at a much slower pace than yesterday's lung opener.

The home team, who drew with Punjab in a rousing match yesterday, clearly showing signs of tiredness in playing for the second day running. 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 coming into the picture more later.

Ranchi, who combined better than their rivals with Manpreet Singh catching the eye in midfield with his incisive passes, got two short corner awards, but failed to make any impression with both of them and the score stood goalless at the halfway stage of the game. The beginning of the third quarter saw the pace of the game pick up a bit and as a consequence both the defense was put under more pressure.

As a result it was no surprise to see the deadlock broken and it was Mumbai which scored first when their Belgian star forward Tom 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. And Middleton made it 2-1 in Ranchi?s favour in the 45th minute of the game with a superb reverse-hit to the right of Mumbai custodian David Harte after he was left free to take the shot by the shoddy home team defense.

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