For the first time in three seasons, the stands at the Mahindra Stadium were packed as Dabang Mumbai took on defending champions Delhi Waveriders. Yet, the crowd —mainly comprising school children — endured another disappointing result as the hosts lost 3-1, keeping the Mumbai franchise settled at the bottom of the league table.
It took the visitors just four minutes to open the scoring. Mumbai had gotten off to a good start — dominating possession and making a majority of the attacks. But Delhi defender Rupinder Pal Singh spotted an opening through the middle and drilled a long, cross field pass, which essentially may have been an attempt to relieve the defence. The pass was deflected off Yuvraj Walmiki’s stick to Simon Child on the edge of the shooting area. The New Zealander, unmarked, went for a reverse shot, which whizzed between custodian Adrian D’Souza’s legs to give the visitors the lead.
There onwards, the home side resumed putting pressure on the opposition goal. The attacks however, were not as demanding of the Delhi defence as the gathered audience would have hoped, with the defenders often managing to guide the ball to safety without goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse being tested. A lot, on that front, depended on the return of skipper Sardar Singh, who brought a great degree of calm in his side’s ranks.
Gurbaj Singh too was solid as always on the right, as the Delhi team steadily began making inroads into the Mumbai half. The 26-year-old India international guided a counter attack in the 48th minute. A pass to Steven Edwards was further knocked on to Simon Child, who neatly slotted past D’Souza for his, and Delhi’s second.
Mumbai did manage to pull one back 10 minutes from time. Penalty corner specialist Harmanpreet Singh, who struck the crossbar in an earlier effort, saw his shot evade Erasmus Pieterse to pull one back for the hosts.
Trailing by one goal, Mumbai increased their attempts to equalise, only for Delhi to latch on to counter-attacking measures. In the last minute of play, four Delhi forwards broke out against two defenders. Vikram Pillay did manage to get a crucial interception to quell Talwinder Singh’s attempt. Yet Timothy Drummond picked up the ball and passed it to Jason Wilson, who made no mistake to slot in an open goal.
The win was an identical result of the first leg. While Mumbai remain at the bottom, Delhi now moves up to the third spot at the middle of the season.