Ashley Jackson continued to lead the Ranchi Rays by example as the defending champions beat Delhi Waveriders 2-1 in their first home game of the 2016 Hockey India League at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Tuesday. Skipper Jackson scored twice from penalty corners to help his side recover from a 0-1 deficit and win the game. For the visitors, Indian defender Rupinderpal Singh managed to get his name on the score sheet with his trademark drag-flick.
Delhi Waveriders open account after goalless first quarter:
Both teams got off to a cautious start and it was the Delhi Waveriders who seemed to be the more aggressive side eventually. Simon Child was impressive in the midfield as he initiated a handful of attacks but the other forwards could not lend him enough support. Ranchi Rays had employed their best set of defenders with the likes of Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Fergus Kavanagh and Trent Mitton.
Rupinnderpal Singh opened scoring for the Waveriders in the 27th minute when they were awarded a penalty corner. A smart variation had the opponent team deceived and Rupinder sent in a powerful drag-flick into the goal to put his side 1-0 ahead. The Ranchi Rays retaliated almost immediately as they missed a scoring opportunity in the very next attack. Their attacking nature of play earned them a penalty corner in the 29th minute and their go-to man Ashley Jackson waited at the edge of the shooting circle. His shot whistled past the Delhi defenders and crashed into the goal to restore parity. The score was 1-1 at half time.
Jackson delivers the winner for Ranchi Rays:
The Ranchi Rays were awarded yet another penalty corner in the 31st minute and Ashley Jackson took full advantage of the opportunity as he brought his side into the lead. The British drag-flicker came up with another brilliantly executed shot that beat the Delhi keeper all ends up. Delhi came close to scoring off another penalty corner and even had the Ranchi keeper beaten but Flynn Ogilvie showed great presence of mind as he pulled the slow-moving ball back inches away from the goal line and cleared it. The game ended with Ranchi Rays picking up their second win on the trot after their loss to Punjab Warriors in the first game. The top four teams are now tied at 11 points with only goal differences separating them.