Lucknow, Feb 2: Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Jaypee Punjab Warriors finished level 2-2 at full time to register the first draw of the second edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) at the Dhyan Chand Stadium here Sunday.
It was a free-flowing contest between two evenly-matched teams. Even though the Wizards had the larger share of ball possession, there was little to differentiate between the two sides.
The goalkeepers of both Wizards (George Bazeley) and Warriors (Jaap Stockmann) had a busy day in office as the teams played attacking hockey throughout the match.
The Wizards started on an aggressive note and earned a penalty corner early on but skipper V.R. Raghunath flicked the ball straight to Man of the Match Stockmann. The Warriors took the lead in the sixth minute through Jake Whetton’s goal after he was set up by S.V. Sunil.
Their joy, however, was short-lived as the Wizards drew level six minutes later when David Alegre equalised from a rebound after Stockmann denied Luke Doerner a penalty corner.
Warriors had the first shot at goal after halftime in the form of a penalty corner but drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was not up to the mark. The visitors surged ahead once again when Satbir Singh (50th minute) scored with a forehand shot in the third quarter after he was set up by Simon Orchard and Whetton’s fine work from the right flank.
However, the Wizards pressed hard and managed to draw level four minutes later through S.K. Uthappa (54th), who slapped home from close range.
The draw gave both teams two points apiece from the match with the Warriors having consolidated their position at the top of the standings with 18 points from five games. The Wizards have moved up the table, garnering 13 points from four matches.
“A better show. Last match we were lacking in few areas but we prepared well and performed well. We have to improve on our conversion rate and grab the chances we get. Need to make winning a habit and try improving the level of our game. We see this match a base to start improving and we have to grow from here,” Wizards coach Roelant Oltmans said.
Warriors manager Jagbir Singh rued missing out on opportunities but praised their keeper Stockmann.
“Our team is known for attack and we have been successful in this till now. We missed a few opportunities. But the highlight was our goalkeeping which was very good and met expectations. We are looking at our next match,” said Jagbir.
The Wizards will next play Delhi Waveriders in New Delhi Feb 5 while the Warriors will take on Dabur Mumbai Magicians in Mumbai Feb 8.