An incredible 60th minute goal by Robbert Kemperman ensured Dabang Mumbai snatched the victory from Uttar Pradesh Wizards who looked like they would march away with a win after Ramandeep Singh’s 59th minute goal in a nail-biting encounter at Mahindra Hockey Stadium, Mumbai.
Junior World Cup hero Harmanpreet Singh’s stellar double goal in the 24th and 32nd minute was a key feature in Dabang Mumbai’s 4-3 win. This is the home team's first win after they drew with Ranchi Rays in the first match of the fifth edition of the Coal India Hockey India League.
Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, Dabang Mumbai got off to a strong start in the first quarter pressing high and hard at the Uttar Pradesh Wizards’ defence constantly. They held most of the possession and were constantly making forays into the Uttar Pradesh Wizards circle, albeit with little success.
Midway through the quarter though, a poor tackle in the midfield by Harmanpreet Singh saw 29-year-old Edward Ockenden take complete advantage, bursting into the circle, beating two Dabang Mumbai defenders to set up a brilliant field goal scored by teammate Agustin Mazzilli in the 12th minute to give Uttar Pradesh Wizards an early 2-0 lead. It was a lead they held on to as the teams went into the first break.
Later though, Junior World Cup hero Harmanpreet Singh was inch perfect when he made up for his gaffe in the first quarter by converting a penalty corner in the 24th minute.
With a minute remaining for the first half, Uttar Pradesh Wizards had a chance to take a 3-1 lead with a PC but their drag flicker Gonzalo Peillat from Argentina failed to convert with the ball flying wide off the post. The teams ended the second quarter with a close 2-1 goal difference.
If Dabang Mumbai’s ability to attack and earn penalty corners was a feature in the first half, they continued to improvise on it post the half-time break by earning yet another penalty corner of the game in the 32nd minute. Dabang Mumbai, opted for in-form Harmanpreet Singh to take the strike again and he did not disappoint. The 21-year-old came up with a class act finding the right top corner to beat Uttar Pradesh Wizards celebrated goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. Singh’s double goal helped Dabang Mumbai equalize 2-2, thus putting pressure on the visitors.
The final quarter witnessed some tense moments with both teams trying desperately to take a lead. In the 54th minute, Dabang Mumbai did well to fetch another PC. Harmanpreet who was on a hat-trick, however, tried a different variation and failed miserably at converting it. With just seconds from the final hooter, Uttar Pradesh Wizards Ramandeep Singh’s quick-thinking goal took their score to 3-2.
But Dabang Mumbai’s incredible ability to hold their nerves and come back into the game in the final moments yet again, just like they did in their first game against Ranchi Rays, fetched them their first win of the League. It was Robbert Kemperman who struck a splendid field goal with a fine assist by Gurmail Singh to snatch the win from Uttar Pradesh Wizards with the score reading 4-3. Under the new rule a field goal counts for two and this proved crucial in Dabang Mumbai earning five points from the win.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards Agustin Mazzilli was awarded with a prize money of Rs 50,000 for scoring the Coal India Goal of the Match from four-time Olympian Dhanraj Pillay.
Gurjant Singh of Dabang Mumbai won the prize of Rs 25,000 for being the Hero Young Achiever of the Match from international hockey player Tony Fernandes. The Most Entertaining Player of the Match was awarded to Seve Van Ass of Uttar Pradesh Wizards that came with a prize money of Rs 25,000 by Olympian Rahul Singh. Harmanpreet Singh of Dabang Mumbai was declared the Man of the Match and was awarded a prize money of Rs 50,000 by Saumya Khaitan, CEO, Dabang Mumbai Hockey Club.
On 26 January 2017, Kalinga Lancers will take on Ranchi Rays at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi.