Ranchi Rays made the most of the new regulation, to script a comeback 3-2 win against a strong Kalinga Lancers, in a Coal India HIL match here at the Morabadi Astroturf Stadium on Thursday.
Australian Timothy Deavin came sliding up to score spectacularly and turn the match in favour of the hosts, who were trailing 1-2 till early in the fourth quarter. Ashley Jackson had pulled one back from a penalty-corner after Malak Singh had made it 2-0 for Lancers with an opportunistic field goal early in the third quarter.
The new regulation of doubling the goal count on a field-goal thus came to help Ranchi Rays, which scored its second successive home win and third overall to race to the top of the standings with 16 points from four matches. The Kalinga Lancers tallied 12 points from two wins and as many loses to remain in the second position in the current league table.
The home side suffered scoring blues initially despite making a strong start and creating two good opportunities in the very first quarter. The first opportunity came in the ninth minute when Australian midfielder Daniel Beale got clear into the striking zone, but that move was brilliantly thwarted by his compatriot Andrew Charter, who was manning the Kalinga Lancers goal. Manpreet Singh showed his skills in the 12th minute weaving his way past a host of Lancers defenders to the goalmouth but his push was saved by Charter, who continued frustrating the host’s efforts.
Lancers then found a goal by Jackson disallowed after their English captain found the Lancers net from a penalty-corner but was hauled up for dangerous play. The first two quarters ended barren as Rays struggled to finish while Lancers put up a dogged defending under the charge of their captain and German star Moritz Furste.
The visitors changed gears after the break and launched a barrage of attacks. The host’s defence gave away in the 33rd minute when a sharp cross from Lalit Upadhyay forced Indian international and the Rays’ defensive bulwark Birendra Lakra to err decisively. Lakra messed up his attempted stop as the ball flew off his stick and came off the goalpost to reach Malak Singh. The Lancers’ forward accepted the gift with glee and volleyed home the rebound to give the visitor the lead in the 33rd minute.
Jackson converted the team’s fourth penalty corner to score in the 39th minute and keep Rays in the match. Deavin, coming in as a late substitute, found the winner off a sliding effort after Charter failed to cleanly block Danile Beale’s shot in the 48th minute.
The result: Ranchi Rays 3 (Ashley Jackson 39-pc, Timothy Deavin 48-fg) bt Kalinga Lancers 2 (Malak Singh 33-fg)