Jaypee Punjab Warriors sneaked past Uttar Pradesh Wizards by 2-1 in a keenly-contested league match to jump to the second position in the points’ table of Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) 2014 in Mohali today.
It was a neck-and-neck fight between the two teams as they matched each other stick-by-stick throughout the entire 70 minutes.
Irrespective of the result, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards had the better share of ball possession with 56 per cent as against Jaypee Punjab Warriors’ 44 per cent.
After a goalless first quarter, the hosts scored two goals in a span of nine minutes to take a 2-0 lead.
First captain and legendary Australian striker Jamie Dwyer scored a beautiful field goal in the 21st minute before star drag-flciker Sandeep Singh converted a penalty corner to seize early control of the match.
But Uttar Pradesh Wizards pulled a goal back just at the stroke of halftime when Hugo Reid Inglis (35th minute) scored from a field effort to go into the breather trailing by a goal.
In the second half, Jaypee Punjab Warriors created numerous scoring opportunities but their strikers failed to capitalize on them.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards too had to blame themselves as in-spite of enjoying the majority of possession they failed to score goals.
The visitors got two penalty corners in the match but could not convert either.
By virtue of this win, Jaypee Punjab Warriors pocketed five points from the match and moved up to the second position with 30 points from eight games.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards have slipped to the third spot with 26 points from nine matches.
Hero Goal of the match winner –Jamie Dwyer
YES Bank Garv Award winner – Jamie Dwyer
Man of the Match – Simon Orchard
Speaking to the media, Barry Dancer, Coach, Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “I am happy with the win today. With some of our good players back, we will certainly improve further. Sandeep’s performance was great today. He really contributed well and is a team strength. We will rest some players in the next match so that the team is fully geared up for the semis.”
Jamie Dwyer, Captain, Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “It was a complete team effort today. We had good control over the ball during the entire game. Need to work more on converting the penalty corners which we realize and work upon.”
Roelant Oltmans, Coach Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “Our ball possession was better today and we played great in the third quarter. We need to however work on certain areas and play more attacking hockey.”
Tushar Khandker, Captain of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “It was a good and close match. There were many close calls even though the match score did not favour us. I am happy with the team combination now. It is more robust and cohesive. Our practice for semis is going well and have our strategies in place.”
Jaypee Punjab Warriors will next face defending champions Ranchi Rhinos in their penultimate league match here tomorrow, while Uttar Pradesh Wizards will face Dabur Mumbai Magicians in their final league game at Lucknow on February 18.