HIL: First home win keeps Delhi Waveriders alive

It took some extraordinary goalkeeping from Devon Manchester and brilliant attacking play for Delhi Waveriders to register its first win at home with a 7-4 verdict against table-topper Ranchi Rays here on Thursday.

Delhi Waveriders' Mandeep Singh (left) celebrates after scoring against Ranchi Rays, at the Shivaji Stadium, in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  R. V. Moorthy

It took some extraordinary goalkeeping from Devon Manchester and brilliant attacking play for Delhi Waveriders to register its first win at home with a 7-4 verdict against table-topper Ranchi Rays here on Thursday.

Coming as it did after four consecutive losses in the Hockey India League, the victory propelled Waveriders to 22 points from nine matches and kept its chances of making the cut for the semifinals alive. Ranchi, sitting pretty with 27 points and two games in hand — both at home — would be disappointed to not seal its last-four spot but had only its waywardness to blame. Also, eight penalty corners wasted despite the presence of two specialists in the side contributed to the visitors’ failure.

Continuous pressure

Still, it wasn’t a one-sided affair. Rays kept pressing for scoring chances but paid the price for a soft defence in the absence of Birendra Lakra, and a few marking errors. Credit, however, must go to the host who went on an all-out attack from the word go and kept the pressure up all through the game.

The attacking spree began in the third minute when Talwinder Singh’s shot at the goal was blocked by Ranchi goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. A penalty corner soon after was pushed wide but Mandeep Singh, lurking in front of the goal, deflected in a long corner from Iain Lewers to put his team ahead. The youngster would get two more in the 42nd minute, just as Ranchi was beginning to assert itself, to put his team in control.

Forwardline steps in

In between, it was all about Delhi’s young forwardline coming to the party even as captain Simon Child continued with his role as a feeder with precision. Talwinder, Santa Singh and Harjeet Singh combined well to repeatedly penetrate the Ranchi circle. The first named scored with the third shot off a penalty corner before adding another after being put through by Benjamin Stanzl.

Ranchi coach Harendra Singh had said before the game that the key to a good game against Delhi was patience and control and his team displayed it.

Ashley Jackson and Daniel Beale combined well, creating numerous chances upfront but were unable to pierce through the Delhi defence. Ashley managed to pull one back with a shot form the left and Trent Mitton stuck in the 50th minute. Manpreet Singh played well, making his mark both in the attack and defence, but was unable to get the elusive goal.

Amongst all this, Manchester stood tall, defending everything thrown at him and winning every one-on-one contest with the Ranchi strikers. He was the difference between the two teams and, for once, coaches from either side agreed to his being the Man-of-the-Match.

The result: Delhi Waveriders 7 (Mandeep Singh 4-FG, Talwinder Singh 2-FG & 1-PC) bt Ranchi Rays 4 (Ashley Jackson 2-FG, Trent Mitton 2- FG).

  Dugout videos