The Uttar Pradesh Wizards put up a brilliant performance on their home ground as they beat league leaders Punjab Warriors with a score of 2-1. Early Goals from captain V.R Raghunath and Ramandeep Singh in the first ten minutes followed by some quality defending ensured the win for UP Wizards.
Jamie Dwyer scored the lone consolation goal to keep Punjab Warriors interested but they could not capitalize on the penalty corners that they got.
1st quarter: Raghunath, Ramandeep help UP blitz Punjab
Post a disappointing loss against Ranchi Rays yesterday, the UP Wizards looked like a completely different side. Their intent was clear in the first quarter as they looked to score some early goals and maintain pressure.
And the UP Wizards did exactly that; they were awarded a penalty corner early in the 7th minute and skipper V.R Raghunath made no mistake and launched a perfect drag-flick into the left corner of the goal. Just two minutes later, Ramandeep Singh followed up with a sizzling field goal to double the lead. At the end of the first quarter, the UP Wizards were leading 2-0.
2nd quarter: Sreejesh leads the UP defence:
Both the teams went into the second quarter with different mindsets.The visitors looked for more scoring opportunities while UP wizards were keen on holding on to their two-goal lead. Punjab Warriors had their fair share of chances but could not really capitalize on them. Some attempts were niftily handled by the UP defenders while the few shots at goal were kept away by PR Sreejesh, the UP wizards’ goalkeeper. The Indian custodian has been in great form and has played a pivotal role in all the matches for his team.
2nd Half: UP Wizards ward of Punjab
The second half saw a concerted effort by Punjab to cover the deficit but one goal was all they could get. In the third quarter, Sandeep Singh hit a fierce penalty corner but the aim was a bit too straight and Sreejesh was equal to the task
Six minutes into the final quarter, Jake Whetton fought his way through on the left flank and with a left hand swatted the ball around Sreejesh. Dwyer collected the ball and smashed it into the goal. With eight minutes still remaining, the league leaders, Punjab had their tails up. However the UP team did not let their guard down to claim a deserving win.
The Punjab Warriors coach Barry Dancer had this to say after the match
“UP Wizards were a better side today and full credit goes to the them especially after losing yesterday’s match and coming back strong today. I am disappointed with our performance as we gave away goals in the initial stage itself and handed over the lead to the opponents.”
So that statement from Barry Dancer neatly summarizing the match. With this win the UP Wizards were also able to halt the unbeaten run of the Punjab side. The win, will also help UP Wizards hold some bragging rights which may come in play during the knock out stage as these two sides are 1-2 on the league table .
Punjab Warriors still lead the league standings with 23 points but UP Wizards have closed the gap and are now at 19 points. Expect to hear more about these two teams. This battle between the two top teams is not yet over.