Defending champions Central Railway rallied in splendid fashion to overcome Mumbai Customs 2-1 in the opening Super Division match of the Mumbai Hockey Association Limited (MHAL) League,played under floodlights at the MHAL Stadium,Churchgate,on Monday.
Devinder Walmiki,who was later adjudged the man-of-the-match,and Sashi Topno hit the target for Central Railway in the second half after Joshua Versaonkar had given Customs the lead in the first half. The win ensured Central Railways walked away with the full three points from their opening fixture.
Except for a brief period in the first half,Central had things under control right through the match. The Customs defence and goalkeeper Lincoln Taites did well to keep the Central attack in check initially. But once the railwaymen found their rhythm they took the fight to the rival camp. Centrals hard-working midfielder Walmiki played a pivotal role for his team. The youngster,who is among the probables for the junior World Cup later this year,made a lot of runs on the right flank and also initiated many moves to put pressure on the Customs defence.
Customs forged ahead when full back Joshua Versaonkar beat goalkeeper Avdhut Solankar with a firm drive from their second penalty corner in the 18th minute.
Central Railway,who earned eight penalty corners as opposed to four by Customs,found success from their fourth penalty corner in the 48th minute. Walmiki beat Taites with a fine indirect variation to put the railwaymen on level terms.
Three minutes later,the railway outfit were once again on target to forge ahead when Sashi Topno converted from their sixth short corner.
Central continued to make forays towards the Customs citadel but were baulked some timely tackles from the defenders and were unable to add to their tally.
Results: Central Railway 2 (Devinder Walmiki 48th min,Sashi Topno 51st min) beat Mumbai Customs 1 (Joshua Versaonkar 18th min).