Mumbai : Central Railway, Mumbai paid dearly for their poor finishing and their defensive approach as they were held to a 2-2 draw by a determined RCF (Rail Coach Factory), Kapurthala in crucial Pool ‘A’ league match of the 12th PMC Bank-Guru Tegh Bahadur All India Gold Cup Hockey Championship, organized by MHAL (Mumbai Hockey Association Limited) and played at the MHAL-Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate, on Sunday. The scores were level at 1-all at the end of the first session.
Affan Yusuf (19th minute) and Yuvraj Walmiki (50th) scored the goals for Central while RCF got their goals through Gagandeep Singh (30th) and Deepak Sharma (64th).
Central Railway combined nicely and managed to create a number of goal-scoring opportunities, but their forwards, in particular Yuvraj, Affan and Deepak Lakra were unable to captitalise on the openings. The Mumbai side got the breakthrough when Affan after receiving a pass inside the circle controlled the ball and created space before unleashing a rasping drive past RCF goalkeeper Jugraj Singh.
RCF stung by that setback regrouped and fought on gamely and they did well to captitalise on a costly lapse by defender Roshan Keisham who made a hash with a regular clearance. RCF’s forward Ajmer Singh intercepted the pass and pushed forward for an unmarked Gagandeep who sounded the boards with a firm angular hit past Central goalkeeper Avadhut Solankar in the 30th minute.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Central regained the lead with Yuvraj scoring with a first-timed hit from the top of the circle. But Central made a grave mistake by going on the defensive and came under tremendous pressure, which allowed RCF to get the equalizer through Deepak Sharma in the 64th minute.
Central finished their engagements with 7 points from 2 wins, a draw and a loss against Air India, while RCF also tally 7 points but have a game in hand against Air India, who are placed atop the pool with 9 points, on Tuesday. A draw would suffice for RCF to go through the semi-finals. Even if RCF lose the concluding game to Air India, but not by a big margin they could still qualify for the last four round as they have a better goal -difference of +10 as compared to Central’s goal-difference of +7.