Delhi Waveriders and Uttar Pradesh Wizards faced each other in their last league game of Hero Hockey India League 2015. While both the teams have already qualified for the semi-finals, a victory for the UP Wizards was important as it was their last chance to get back to the top of the table. In a high-tension and entertaining encounter, both the teams played out a 3-3 draw.
1st quarter: Sreejesh stars in goalless first quarter:
Early in the first quarter, Delhi Waveriders were awarded a penalty corner. Defender Rupinderpal Singh yet again failed to convert as his 126 kph drag-flick was kept away by PR Sreejesh. The UP goalkeeper made a brilliant diving effort to deny the drag-flick. No goals were scored in the first half.
2nd quarter: Raghunath scores to give UP Wizards lead:
In the 20th minute, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards won a penalty corner and their captain VR Raghunath made no mistake in converting it. A well directed drag-flick found its way through Nicolas Jacobi’s pads and crawled into the goal. The Waveriders had their opportunities but it was impossible for them to get past in-form Sreejesh. At half time, the UP Wizards walked back into the hut with an important 1-0 lead.
3rd quarter: Hertzberger doubles lead, Hayward pulls one back for Delhi Waveriders:
Coming into the third quarter, the home side enjoyed 57% possession but a goal deficit put them on the backfoot. For the visitors, the trio of Nithin Thimmaiah, Jeroen Hertzberger and Bob de Voogd maintained pressure on the Delhi defenders. The Uttar Pradesh Wizards doubled their lead in the 34th minute through some wonderful teamwork. Nithin Thimmaiah smartly deflected an incoming cross from the right to find Hertzberger, who calmly tapped the ball inside the goal.
With just one minute to go, Talwinder Singh won a penalty corner for the Delhi Waveriders. Andrew Hayward’s drag flick was blocked by a defender’s foot which resulted in another opportunity from the baseline. The next penalty corner too did not yield a goal as Sreejesh once again made a fantastic save but ended up conceding a third consecutive penalty corner. This time Hayward had the last laugh as his shot found the back of the net with 23 seconds on the clock. The third quarter ended at 2-1 and the game was in for an exciting finish.
4th quarter: Three goals scored in entertaining fourth quarter:
Early in the fourth quarter, the Delhi Waveriders managed to steal the ball outside the shooting circle and Matt Gohdes made a quick solo run and fired in a powerful shot into the goal in the 51st minute. The speed of the shot was such that PR Sreejesh could not move an inch. In the very next minute, Simon Child’s backhand strike inside the shooting circle deflected off Sreejesh’s helmet and went into the goal. In the space of one minute, the scorecard changed from 1-2 to 3-2 in Delhi’s favour.
In the 53rd minute, VR Raghunath rose to the occasion once again as he scored off a penalty corner to equalize for the Uttar Pradesh Wizards. The contest was heating up with every passing minute as attempts kept flowing in every now and then at both ends. Both the goalkeepers were kept busy and it could be anyone’s game with 3 minutes to go. No goal was scored in the dying minutes and both the teams ended up sharing points.
Delhi Waveriders will go into the semi-finals as a confident side looking at the brand of hockey they played. The Uttar Pradesh Wizards will be disappointed as they let go of their two-goal lead in the space of just few minutes.