Man-marking or zonal marking matters little when Affan Yousuf is on the prowl. Two clever goals from the forward played a huge role for Dabang Mumbai as it beat Delhi Waveriders. Leading 3-1 after three quarters, the home team survived a Wavewirders fightback in the fourth quarter to win 3-2 and retain top place in Coal India Hockey India League 2017.
Creating room for strikes at target and finding his own angles to outwit the goalkeeper, Affan added to his ever-growing reputation with two goals, the first one a spectacular field goal. He moved away from defender Pardeep, who was covering the first angle, before flicking across to inside of the left post. The second goal was a back-hander, twisting his body into position and reacting instinctively.
Waveriders punched in two direct penalty corner goals, two from five corners forced, via Justin Reid and Rupinderpal Singh, both clinical efforts, contrasting with the cheeky ones by Affan.
Mumbai remain unbeaten after four games on the trot with one draw and three wins and firmly at the top of the six-team HIL table.
Dabang, going into the tie after a morale-boosting 10-4 win in the previous game against Punjab, faced early anxiety and custodian Harte dealt with two attempts firmly. Waveriders' backline had to deal with probes from different angles in the first quarter. Three penalty corners for the visitor proved futile.
Harmanpreet had a hand in the host going three goals up by half-time. He moved up in support of a move on the right and swept the ball into the goalmouth. Affan trapped and tapped in. Delhi Waveriders defenders suffered the second blow off Mumbai’s first penalty corner. The drag came off the post, the opportunist was at hand to reverse hit the ball first time.
The third quarter saw Dabang Mumbai tightening marking and creating problems for the rival with the ball to find a free man. Under instructions from coach Jay Stacy, the home side in blue also took care to avoid losing possession in their half. The green-shirted visitors were forced to chase the ball around the turf and almost pulled off a draw in the fourth quarter.
Scores: Dabang Mumbai HC 3 (Affan Yousuf 28 FG, 30 G) bt Delhi Waveriders 2 (Austin Reid 43 PC, Rupinderpal Singh 53 PC).
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