- Pune Strykers’ first defeat in 1st Bridgestone World Series Hockey
The inaugural Bridgestone World Series Hockey is shaping up for some sizzling suspense. Gradually all the teams which were slow to take off are now finding their peaks as Chandigarh Comets surprised the consistent Pune Strykers 3-1 in their crucial encounter here on Sunday.
Exhibiting all-round excellence in all the vital departments, Comets descended on Pune Strikers rather dramatically and tellingly on their home ground after conceding an early goal, coming off a terrific effort from Argentine legend Mario Almada in the 10th minute. The goal triggered an immediate backlash as the Comets came looking for the equalizer and Sukhwinder ‘Gabbar’ Singh restored parity just two minutes later. Gurjinder Singh and Lloyd Stephenson took the match further from the Strykers. This was the third win for Comets and helped them to take their points at par with Strykers and Mumbai Marines with nine points each.
Comets’ goalkeeper Harjot Singh was in his elements, denying even the best of shots its intended destination as the Strykers came hard on them after Gabbar’s equaliser. Bikash Toppo and Almada pierced the Comets galaxy umpteen times, but ’keeper Harjot Singh was equal to the task and warded many goal-bound shots.
Earlier, in an evenly fought first quarter, Almada’s magic broke the deadlock in the crucial tie. The Argentinean star first created space for himself amidst a maze of legs and sticks before criss-crossing to the other side of the circle with amazing stick work, and then sent a power-packed diagonal backhander to see the ball smash to the other side of the net. It was a classic goal and changed the complexion of the game as both teams hit top gear.
The Comets attacked relentlessly and as a result, skipper Rehan Butt fetched his side’s first penalty corner. A move started after a shoddy set-piece drill, and Canadian star ‘Gabbar’ from the left wing leapt full length to trap a lose ball and whacked it home to bring up the equalizer. The match oscillated as Pune Strykers launched regular counters but Comets ‘keeper Harjot Singh was rock solid in defence.
The Comets had their moment again as Gurjinder Singh’s drag flick got deflected off the charger close to him, and fell into the top right corner in the 40th minute for the 2-1 lead. Lloyd Stephenson increased the lead further in the closing seconds of the third quarter. The wily striker side-stepped the chasing Stryker captain Ken Perreira on top of the D, and entering the striking area he dispatched the ball into the net for the Comets’ insurmountable lead.
The Strykers had their share of aggression but failed to capitalise on their chances, The team, known for its precision in penalty corners, failed miserably in this department despite being awarded four PCs in the last five minute.
Goal Scorer for Pune Strykers:
Mario Nicolas Almada 11′ (FG)
Goal Scorers for Chandigarh Comets:
Sukwinder Singh (Gabbar) 12′ (FG)
Gurjinder Singh 41′ (PC)
Llyod Stephensonn 51′ (FG)
Credits: World Series Hockey