Many surprises were in store on Friday as league toppers Punjab Warriors went up against Delhi Waveriders in match 10 of the Hero Hockey India League. It was expected to be a high intensity game. Delhi Waveriders were in desperate need of a win as the 2014 champions have been win-less for two matches.
Delhi Begin With High Spirits
Delhi came into the match with a positive attitude. Right from the beginning, the team was dominant. Punjab Warriors looked like a rather slow and tired outfit.
And the Delhi Waveriders did catch Punjab Warriors unawares in the first quarter. A visionary pass from Hayward found Akashdeep right at the edge of the Punjab Warriors’ shooting circle. Akashdeep turned inside beating his marker. A scorching hit from Akashdeep went past Delhi’s keeper and into the goal.
For the next three quarters, the Delhi Waveriders kept running Punjab’s defense down. By the time the first half got over, Delhi had kept 57% of ball possession.
Punjab Warriors respond in the Final Quarter
For the first three quarters, it appeared as if Punjab Warriors were playing with lead boots. In the third quarter Jamie Dwyer took a hit and walked off the pitch. It almost took away whatever hopes that Punjab had of getting something out of the game. But Dwyer came back and so did the Punjab Warriors.
As soon as the fourth quarter began, the Punjab Warriors dug deep into their stamina reserves and suddenly came back into life. The first penalty corner that Punjab won in the fourth quarter was converted without any mistakes by Cristopher Ciriello. A rather slow injection was hit like a rocket by Ciriello into the bottom left corner of the goal post.
Ten minutes remained and the match was now wide open for the taking. It was Punjab that kept pressing. And then came a beauty of a shot by SV Sunil from the right. The ball went flying into the goal.
To make it worse for Delhi, Punjab fired in one more. Agustin Mazzilli cut into the D from the right. He dived to cut the ball in from the goal-line. A sublime pass left Affan Yusuf with nothing more than to pop the goal into the open goal mouth.
Jaap Stockmann Is Punjab Warriors SuperMan
If Punjab even lived to see the light of day, it is only because of this man standing guard of their goal. Jaap Stockmann blocked countless shots from the Delhi attacking line. He was at his best when his team needed him. In the third quarter, he made four saves in almost just as many minutes. If Punjab were still fighting in the fourth quarter, it was because Jaap Stockmann had kept Delhi down to one goal only. He won a well deserved Man of the Match award for his performance.
3-1 was the final score in favor of the Punjab Warriors. That took them further to 17 points from four matches. They rest safe on top of the table. However, Delhi remained at the bottom of the table with just five points from three matches. The defending champions will need to get back to the drawing board to recover from this start.