Captain Ashley Jackson scored a brilliant hat-trick, including two stunning goals in the dying moments, as Ranchi Rays recorded an upset 3-2 win over Punjab Warriors in a thrilling match of the Hero Hockey India League here today.
With the win today, Ranchi, who snatched the game from the jaws of defeat, moved to the top of points table having won six games out of 10 while Punjab stay on five victories from nine games played so far with one more game to go.
Both teams had already earned a berth in the semi-finals before going into this match played at the International Hockey stadium here.
With hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr watching the game, both teams fought hard to outdo each other and Punjab were in the lead 2-1 right until the end before Jackson’s twin-strike in the final minute left the home team stunned in a match that witnessed twists and turns until the end.
Ranchi were down two goals at the end of first quarter. However, they came back strongly and got their first goal when the Jackson’s sharp hit of a penalty corner beat goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann all ends up in the 26th minute.
Thereafter, the two teams jostled right till the end with Punjab leading 2-1 until the last minute of the match.
The home team and their supporters were then left stunned as Jackson pumped in two goals from penalty corners in the final few seconds.
The final minute of the game was full of drama when umpire Gurinder Sangha awarded two penalty strokes in Ranchi’s favour but the video referrals awarded penalty corner, with the visitors making no mistake even from that opportunity.
For Punjab, penalty-corner-specialist Sandeep Singh put his team ahead in the ninth minute when he scored of the first penalty corner which his team earned.
Towards the end of first quarter, the home team earned two back-to-back penalty corners, with Christopher Ciriello converting from the second one giving his team a 2-0 lead.
Just before the end of second quarter, Punjab earned their fourth penalty corner, but failed to convert while four back-to-back penalty corners were awarded to them in the fourth quarter, but they failed to convert any of them also.
Punjab Warriors were a depleted side today in the absence of their star players, including skipper Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowels, Lucas Rey and Dharamvir Singh.