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WSH: Pune edge Mumbai in thrilling encounter

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Press Trust of India

Last Updated: March 02, 2012, 00:01 IST

WSH: Pune edge Mumbai in thrilling encounter

In a see-saw battle, Pune Strykers emerged winners with a narrow 7-5 margin as Gurpreet Singh scored four.

Mumbai: Pune Strykers slammed in three goals in the last quarter in the space of 10 minutes to edge out Mumbai Marines 7-5 to open their campaign on a winning note in a rousing World Series Hockey encounter at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium here on Thursday night.

Pune Strykers had to thank their penalty corner expert Gurpreet Singh who notched up four goals, including two in the last quarter, for their come-from-behind victory over Mumbai who led 4-3 at the halfway stage of the match.

Apart from Gurpreet, the other goal scorers for Pune - who took a 3-1 lead in the first quarter before allowing Mumbai to come back - were Mario Almada, Lungile Tsolekile and Roshan Minz, who scored the last goal in the match.

For Mumbai, who lacked an effective penalty corner drag-flicker and forced only five penalty corners as compared to their rivals' 13, speedy front-liner Joga Singh scored thrice (not a hat-trick) while Aljub Ekka and Troy Sutherland completed the tally.

Pune, for whom Vikas Pillay played a crucial role in the midfield in the first three quarters, went ahead very early in the match through a well-struck deflection into the far corner of the rival goal by Argentinian forward Almada.

Mumbai attacked immediately but Pune custodian Gurpreet Singh Guri could not be beaten by Prabhodh Tirkey and it was the home team's goal which fell again immediately afterwards.

Pune forced two penalty corners in succession and their drag-flicker Gurpreet Singh scored off the second, with an effort to the left of Mumbai custodian Adrian D'Souza.

The first quarter ended with Pune up 2-0.

Mumbai reduced the margin immediately after resumption in the second quarter when Australian Troy Sutherland was lying in wait for a long through ball hit from the home team's half near the rival goal, and pushed in with the Pune defence caught napping.

But Pune hit back within a minute to take a 3-1 lead by forcing their third penalty corner and Gurpreet again was successful to find the mark.

Joga Singh struck twice in as many minutes, first with a reverse strike when he was left free inside the 'D' and then with a volley off the goal-keeper's pads, to restore parity.

Then Mumbai took the lead for the first time in the match when the impressive Aljub Ekka provided the finishing touches to a fast break from the right. At the end of the first two quarters, it was the home team that had come from behind to be ahead 4-3.

Mumbai surged further in front (5-3) when Joga scored his third goal following the team's second penalty corner award by deflecting in the ball off the rebound from Pune goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Guri's pads to the roof of the net.

But Pune stormed back by forcing a string of five short corners; and off the fourth of these, and their eighth in the match, Gurpreet sounded the board for the second time to make it 5-4.

Pune pressed hard for the equaliser and earned their 12th penalty corner, off which Gurpreet made no mistake and then put them 6-5 ahead with eight minutes left for the final hooter off their next penalty corner.

Just before this goal came, Joga made a brilliant run on the left flank and centered in but Ekka was a wee bit late in diving for a deflection.

Pune increased the lead off a fast counter attack through the middle that resulted in Almada taking a shot at the rival goal, before Roshan Minz put the ball in from close range off a rebound from Mumbai custodian Adrian's pads.

They then easily held off the late Mumbai surge to record a well-deserved victory.

first published:March 02, 2012, 00:01 IST
last updated:March 02, 2012, 00:01 IST