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Northern Rly. rallies to beat Indian Navy

NEW DELHI, NOV. 14. Raju Choudhary pulled off a dying-second equaliser for Northern Railway, which went onto edge Indian Navy 7-6 in the tie-breaker after a 2-2 deadlock in the inaugural match of the 41st Nehru hockey tournament at the Shivaji Stadium here on Sunday.

The Railway team will meet Central Reserve Police on Monday.

Looking back at the way the match ended, Navy should be cursing its luck. It looked the better in attack, had the larger share of possession and exchanges.

Leading 2-1, with about three minutes left, Navy should have sewn the match up, but a shot by Ajay Kumar that got deflected off a defender's stick, just failed to find the mark, being cleared in the nick of time. Almost on the final hooter, Raju sneaked in that equaliser for Northern to drag the match into the tie-breaker.

Earlier, after a barren first half, Rajiv Panchal got in the first Northern Railway goal in the seventh minute of the second half, off a pass from Harpreet Singh. Navy's sustained attacks brought it the equaliser in the 19th minute following a penalty corner. A.K. Kiro, after a passing bout, pushed the ball towards A.U. Haque, standing near the right post and the latter connected first-time to make it 1-1. Three minutes later, Ajay Kumar found the net after a fine dribble to put Navy in the lead.

Northern stepped up the tempo a little thereafter, bringing in Rajiv Mishra, the 1997 Junior World Cup hero for India, on some sort of a comeback after an injury-forced lay-off, but managed very little. Till Raju slotted in that last-gasp equaliser, that is. Mishra, bulkier and sluggish, was played for around 25 minutes in the first half without making much impact. He seemed to have managed a touch for that second equaliser by Raju and succeeded with both his `strokes' during the tie-breaker.

Nausher Singh, Raju, Gajinder and Brijnev Singh were the other scorers for Northern in the first set of five penalty strokes, while Mishra and Nausher again scored in the `sudden-death' session. Rajan Lakra, N.M. Lokhande, S.B. Gorde, A.K. Kiro and Sanjay Chaudhary scored for Navy in the first set of `strokes'. Lakra scored again while goalkeeper Ambuj Srivastava blocked Kiro's push. — Our Special Correspondent

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