WSH: Lions pull off thrilling win over Cheetahs

March 11th, 2012 - 12:15 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 10 (IANS) Karnataka Lions survived a late surge by Chennai Cheetahs to post a 5-3 win, their second only in six matches of the World Series Hockey tournament here Saturday.

Goals by Ravipal Singh (26th, 63rd), Vinayak Bijwad (32nd, 57th) and Deepak Kullu (68th) saw Karnataka, sorely missing skipper Arjun Halappa, veteran Dhanraj Pillay and striker Amar Aiyamma, shrugging off a tentative start against Cheetahs.

The hosts seemed disheartened after their first quarter goal by Imran Warsi was disallowed and though the Pakistani penalty corner specialist converted in the 38th and 68th minutes, and Mark Harris (70th) scored another, it failed to stop the visitors from chalking up a win.

For Cheetahs, who had begun well, it was their third defeat in six matches and they remain on seven while the Lions moved to six, but continue to languish at the bottom of the eight-team league table.

The Lions showed a lot of character as they faced a must-win situation. Initially under pressure when the Cheetahs enjoyed territorial advantage, the Lions were fortunate that Warsi’s first conversion was subsequently disallowed for obstruction.

Karnataka showed their appreciation of the reprieve as Ravipal Singh drove in from the right for their first goal and soon after, Bijwad made it 2-0 following another mix-up in the Chennai defence.

Chennai, trailing 0-2 at the break, came back strongly in the second half and Warsi raised their spirits with a conversion. The 2-1 scoreline remained unchanged going into the fourth quarter that saw as many as five goals being scored in a 13-minute spell.

Karnataka struck twice through Bijwad and Ravipal to go 4-1 ahead. But Cheetahs were far from finished as they forced a penalty corner two minutes from close and Warsi converted to reduce the margin. But then, at the other end, an alert Kullu was on hand to swat home waist-high a loose ball before Harris struck for Cheetahs in the last minute when he converted a rebound from a penalty corner.

It was certainly an improved performance by the Lions for whom the deep defence, marshalled by Len Aiyappa, did a fine job despite being under tremendous pressure. The Cheetahs failed to drive home the advantage of enjoying a lot of space in the midfield and paid the penalty for their lapses.

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