B D Narayankar
PUNE: One should have been at the Ammunition Factory Ground here on Tuesday for two reasons – a world-class goal by Vinod Pillay of Vikram Pillay Academy (VPA) and a couple of match-winning saves in the tie-breaker by Poona Police goalkeeper Waheed Pathan, while their teams zoomed into the finals of Rosary Education Group sponsored Nine-a-Side Hockey Tournament beating Metro Sports and Railway Police respectively.
VPA pulled off a one-goal victory against Metro Sports with the help of a fantastic reverse-flick by Vinod from the top of the D.
The pulsating semi-finals, however, was between arch rivals Railways Police and Poona Police, which the latter won 5-4 in the tie-breaker. Poona Police’s strategy to play a defensive game spelled doom for them as they allowed their rivals to dominate.
Railway Police got their first goal in the fifth minute of the match in the form of Rohidas Musale on a penalty corner. The second goal for them came in the second half when Rohidas rolled one from the corner of the right flank to Milind Lonare who positioned perfectly to tuck in the ball with great power.
Raju Sable nearly put his side ahead with the third goal when he broke into the rival’s defense on the right, dribbling three defenders, ultimately failing to flick the ball into the net. Amit Rajput for Poona Police put one in 36th minute.
There were many attempts from both the sides to outplay their rivals, but they failed to avoid a tie-breaker. Waheed Pathan saved two beautiful goals from Railway Police penalty shooters Raju Sable and Amol Bhosale that put Poona Police into the finals with a 5-4 win.
Meanwhile, in the second match all the limelight was hogged by Vinod Pillay with brilliant and intelligent play setting up attacks for his teammates. His reverse-flick from the top of D was a goal that should not have been missed by anyone as the ball whizzed past the ears of Metro Sports’ goalkeeper Sunil Saket.
In the second half, Metro Sports earned two penalty corners in the last five minutes of the game through wonderful wrist works by Shoaib Ansari. However, the team failed to convert.
RESULTS: Poona Police 5 (Amit Rajput, Bashir Sayeed, Umesh Pulgam, Wajid Sheikh, Prakash Sapkal) bt Railway Police 4 (Rohidas Musale 2, Datta Shinde, Milind Lonare); VPA 1 (Vinod Pillay) bt Metro Sports 0.