Ranchi: Mandeep Singh and Nick Wilson scored twice each to help hosts Ranchi Rhinos beat Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-2 in a thrilling encounter and enter the summit clash of the inaugural Hockey India league in front of a packed Astroturf Hockey Stadium on Saturday. (Agencies)
The Rhinos scored through field goals from Mandeep (5th minute, 66th) and Wilson (32nd, 64th), while Nithin Thimmaiah (16th, 54th) was the goal-getter for the Wizards.
Encouraged by a capacity home crowd it was the Rhinos who started the proceedings on a bright note and was soon rewarded for their efforts when Mandeep scored in the fifth minute after latching on to a loose ball inside the Wizards 'D'.
Stunned by the early goal, the UP side pressed hard with numerous raids into the rival citdel but with no purpose till the 16th minute when Thimmaiah equalised for the visitors.
The lanky Thimmaiah brought Wizards back into the game, finding the back of the Rhinos net with a reverse hit after she was beautifully set up by Dutch legend Tuen de Nooijer.
The Rhinos, however, were the better side on display at least in the opening half. The hosts earned as many as four penalty corners in the first two quarters only to be denied by a brilliant George Bazeley under the UP bar.
The Rhinos managed to restore their parity three minutes from the opening half through Nick Wilson who managed to find the back of the UP net from a goal-mouth melee. The Wizards, however, protested the goal and went for the referral which was rejected.
The Wizards got an opportunity to equalise soon when they were awarded their first penalty corner at the stroke of half time, but the visitors wasted the chance to trail 1-2 at the first 35 minutes.
Ranchi started on the same breath after the change of ends and earned their fifth penalty corner in the opening minute of the second half but failed to capitalize on it.
The Rhinos' game got better and better as the match progressed. The Wizards, on the other hand, threatened with occasional forays.
Ranchi: Mandeep Singh and Nick Wilson scored twice each to help hosts Ranchi Rhinos beat Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-2 in a thrilling encounter and enter the summit clash of the inaugural Hockey India league in front of a packed Astroturf Hockey Stadium on Saturday.