HIL: Warriors edges Rays 1-0

Ranchi Rays got its referrals right, it created the moves, it had shots on target -- everything except a goal against its name. Jaypee Punjab Warriors had none, bar luck -- and that mattered the most in the end.

Ranchi Rays' Flynn Ogilvie (red jersey) and Jaypee Punjab Warriors' Matt Gohdes battle for possession.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Two minutes from full time, Manpreet Singh sent a rasping hit from an acute angle that, at most times, would have sounded the board. On Thursday, however, it simply hit the extended pads of Tristan Clemons, the Jaypee Punjab Warriors' (JPW) goalkeeper. He was determined not to let anything past him. A few minutes ago, Ranchi Rays' Christopher Ruhr's shot had bounced off Clemons' pads to the far post, much to the German's anguish.


Nothing went right for the visiting team. There was little cheer in the stands from the few hundred spectators for JPW's first home match of the Hockey India League (HIL) and it reflected in the muted performance on the ground. The host edged 1-0, courtesy Mink van der Weerden's penalty corner conversion.

The visiting team was the more enterprising of the two. It created more chances but failed to make them count. Clemons, deservedly named man of the match, kept Ranchi at bay, not just saving the goal-bound shots from Ruhr and Manpreet but also standing firm against Ashley Jackson's repeated flicks from penalty corners including two back-to-back saves in the 39th minute. Other than that, there was little the host did or tried to do.

JPW managed just a handful of shots at goal, and two penalty corners, to Ranchi's six. The former converted both its penalty corners, but was allowed only one -- the first, in the 25th minute -- the second was disallowed for the ball not crossing the striking circle properly and dragged cleanly -- but beyond that, the big names were all off-colour.

Having lost Australian Simon Orchard to a tendon injury, JPW found its big guns -- Sardar Singh, S. V. Sunil, Mark Knowles, Jake Whetton -- falling silent. There was hardly a worthwhile move created even as Gurbaj Singh, Manpreet and Jackson tried to combine and find the breakthroughs for Ranchi but couldn't score. Ranchi got its referrals right, it created the moves, it had shots on target – everything except a goal against its name. JPW had none, bar luck. And that mattered the most in the end.

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