Thursday, 5 July, 2007

Rakshak protect pride, derail Metro 2-0

B D Narayankar

PIMPRI: Metro ‘B’ had to leave the ground with their shoulders drooped after Rakshak Sports Club delivered the sucker punch, authoring a 2-0 victory in a drab encounter in the 104th All-India Aga Khan hockey tournament being played at Polygrass Stadium here on Wednesday.

The silken touch was clearly missing in the Metro-Rakshak game. Both teams were not in their elements, often faltering at not only reaching the ball on time, but also in weaving patterns and launching a convincing attack. Even the two goals scored by Rakshak were not in the classical mould, which was quite evident in the match between PCMC and Kridaprabhodini on Tuesday afternoon. Both goals were scored in an unconvincing manner, hardly offering any bout of excitement to the sparse crowd.

Rakshak struggled to find their groove in the match, but still managed to surge ahead in the second-round of the competition after receiving a walkover in their first match against Hanumantrao Bhosale Sports Club. Although Rakshak appeared rusty, they did display patches of brilliance. Things started to happen for Rakshak in the first-half itself. They showed a semblance of urgency to score early in the match.

Gaurav Kamble opened Rakshak’s account in the 9th minute of the match when Aumkar Desai set him up just outside the rival’s box, essaying a loose ball to waiting Gaurav who pulled the ball backwards, turned his stick and his reverse-flick crashed into the Metro goal. Rakshak, however, failed to maintain the tempo. They fabricated several raids with a flurry of slick passes, but failed to weave intricate moves to translate their dominance into goals. They lacked professionalism to press home the advantage after getting the initial lead. Rakshak also squandered the opportunity to convert three penalty-corners thereafter. Apparently, the penalty-corner hitters lacked the sting to hammer home the goals. Even the blockers lacked the skill to trap the ball.

Rakshak’s early goal forced Metro on the backfoot, pushing them under pressure that rattled their self-confidence. They neither could show up a confident game in the second-half too.
Metro had a good chance to score the equaliser in the fifth minute, but their goal-bound move was spoiled by agile Rakshak goalkeeper Indrajit Virkar after blocking Sandeep Gadkavi’s hit after receiving the ball from Musa Tangal from the left-hand side of the striking circle.

In the next minute, Rakshak earned their second penalty-corner, but Kamble failed to find the target as he hit the ball poorly and was easily deflected by Metro defender Shah. He, once again, deflected Aniket Kadam’s shot that lobbed over Rakshak goalkeeper’s head in the same minute.
Almost immediately, Rakshak could not beat Metro goalkeeper Parman, who made an extraordinary save anticipating Aniket Kadam’s hit from a penalty-corner push from Yogesh Sasane.

Rakshak’s second goal was built around a clever move of their forwards who drilled holes in the opponent’s defence in the dying minutes of the game. Shah, in a wonderful move, barged into the striking circle and reverse-scooped the ball to Kiran Bhame, who crammed in the goal, sealing Metro’s fate.

RESULTS: Rakshak 2 (Gaurav Kamble, Kiran Bhame) bt Metro 0; Rovers Academy 2 (Ajinkiya Kalbhor, Sumit Asware) bt Hockey Lovers 1 (Rajik Sheikh);

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