Mumbai: Chandigarh Comets made a startling comeback after being 0-2 down within ten minutes to whip Mumbai Marines 5-2 and score their first victory in the Bridgestone World Series Hockey clash at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium on Sunday.
The Comets should have won by a much bigger margin but for some superlative goalkeeping by the Marines captain and India discard Adiran D`Souza who showed excellent reflexes in keeping out half a dozen goal-bound shots.
The most creditable thing for Comets was the fact that they won without the services of their captain and Pakistan ace Rehan Butt who was injured early in the match and had to be taken to the hospital for a scan.
The Comets, who came into the match after having lost their opening two matches, took time to settle down by which time the Marines were 2-0 up before they stormed their way back into the game, equalising before half-time and then pumping in three more goals later to inflict the second defeat in three games on the home team.
Gurjinder Singh struck a brace of penalty corner goals for the visiting team, their second and third efforts, after his colleague Sukhwinder Singh notched up the Comets’ first goal. Sukhwinder later completed the tally by converting a penalty stroke at the fag end.
The fourth goal for Chandigarh was struck by Ranjodh Singh, also a field effort like Sukhwinder`s first goal. Earlier, the Marines were off to a great start through field efforts by their midfield marshal Troy Sutherland (3rd minute) and ebullient striker Joga Singh (8th), for whom it was his fifth goal of the competition following the four-goal strike against Pune Strykers in the lung-opener on March 1.
Marines, who came into the game after a 1-0 victory over Bhopal Badshahs yesterday, looked by far the better outfit in the initial stages before ceding ground from the second quarter. The home team took full advantage of a disjointed Comets defence and were 2-0 up in the first quarter of 17-and-a-half minutes.
Thereafter, the Marines played second fiddle to the visitors who dominated the proceedings totally though they were without the services of Butt for the major part of the encounter.
The Pakistan ace got injured in a one-on-one situation against his counterpart Adrian D’Souza and had to be taken out of the field in the first quarter and did not come back on the field.
Initially lanky Joga Singh prowled the rival area to create difficulties to the Comets’ deep defence while Troy Sutherland, who scored the lone goal in the victory over Bhopal Badshahs yesterday, was there to lend support to the front liners. But as the game progressed they took the back seat.
It was Sutherland who notched the Marines’ opening goal in the 3rd minute. A centre from the right flank had Comets` custodian Swinder Singh blocking, but he was out of position to stop Australian Sutherland from taking hold of the rebound off his pads and banging home in a trice.
The tall Joga, who failed narrowly to connect after a full-length dive in the 2rdminute, hoodwinked a rival defender to collect a long ball from deep inside the Mumbai area sent in by Ajmer Singh and struck home with an angular shot to the left of the rival custodian into the far corner to put the Marines 2-0 up in the 8th minute.
It was the Air India player’s fifth goal of the competition following his four-goal strike against Pune Strykers on March 1.
Down by a brace of goals the Comets, who had lost their first two games against Bhopal and Chennai Cheetahs, showed some urgency in their attack and reduced the margin close to the end of the first quarter when Sukhwinder Singh got a rebound off Marines’ custodian Adrian D’Souza’s pads and squeezed the ball in.
This started a period of dominance by the visiting team, whose captain Rehan Butt - the star Pakistani forward was tightly marked - as they pitched tent in the rival half as Marines took the back seat in the beginning of the second quarter.
India discard Bharat Chikkara and Sukhwinder tore apart the Mumbai defence with their speedy thrusts. The equaliser came as Comets attacked relentlessly and succeeded in forcing three penalty corners in a short period, the third of which was banged home by Gurjinder Singh to restore parity in the 24th minute.
The Comets should have taken the lead too but for some reflex-action saves by Adrian, the discarded India custodian, who blocked shots from Robert Green and Jasjit Singhhular in close succession after having earlier blocked Ramandeep’s effort before the player sent the rebound over the bar.
The half-time score was 2-2.
Comets completely held sway over the Marines with their speed and dribbling skills in the beginning of the third quarter and but for Adrian coming to his side’s rescue, the Marines would have been down by plenty at this stage.