Lucknow, 15 February 2015: Playing the last match on their home turf, hosts Uttar Pradesh Wizards defeated Dabang Mumbai 3-2 at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, Lucknow. With five more points to their name the Wizards have further strengthened their standing in the ongoing Hero Hockey India League 2015 and now lead the league table.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards started off the first quarter with ball in their possession as they made swift attacks at the goal. Despite the strong defence that the home team had on the field, Dabang Mumbai managed to find a gap when Vikas Pillay sneaked in a field goal as early as in the eighth minute, handing his team a required lead of 1-0 over the Wizards. The visiting team again had a chance of scoring when they were awarded a penalty corner but due to the tight defence line-up of Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Mumbai failed to materialize the chance as first quarter closed with scores at 1-0, with Mumbai in the lead.
The hosts came out a lot more attacking in the second quarter and did not allow the opposite team to avail any further chances of scoring while their strikers kept taking frequent shots at the goal. Their efforts bore fruit in the 29th minute when Nithin Thimmaiah scored a field goal to level the score 1-1 just few minutes before the first half of the game came to an end. Dabang Mumbai tried to keep the ball in their possession but the Wizards made sure they got no such opportunity.
With maximum ball possession in the third quarter, Uttar Pradesh Wizards once again displayed an attacking game but could not reach for the nets. The Wizards had a penalty corner but due to the lack of player coordination they could not make use of the chance availed. Dabang Mumbai once again took the lead when Glenn Turner in the 44th minute gently touched the ball as it swung past the strong guards of PR Sreejesh to touch the mesh. The scoreboard showed a score of 2-1 with Dabang Mumbai ahead of the home team.
Dabang Mumbai tried to restrict Uttar Pradesh Wizards from scoring further in the last quarter as they solidified their defence line up for the same. This could not stop UP Wizards from looking out for prospects to score as Harjeet Singh found a break in the defence and sliced-in a beautiful field goal to equal the score at 2-2. In the dying moments of the game Nikkin Thimmaiah scored a stupendous field goal, the decider for this match as Uttar Pradesh Wizards clinched win in the last moments and defeated Dabang Mumbai 3-2.
Speaking on the match, Head Coach of Dabang Mumbai, Valentin Altenburg said, “It was not just bad luck. Our defence went loose in the last quarter as we conceded goals and eventually lost. We started off well but failed to finish in the game.”
Remarking on the loss, Captain of Dabang Mumbai, Arjun Halappa said, “It was a close game but due to the defence in the last quarter we lost. We played good as a team but the final result is very disappointing.”
Ecstatic on the win, Coach of Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Roelant Oltmans said, “Due to some physical problems in the team for last two-three days we did not play up to the mark today but with the determination to win, we were able to make a comeback in the last quarter and win the game. Dabang Mumbai is a good team and lost by a small margin. We still need to improve in certain areas. For the semi finals, Delhi Waveriders, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Ranchi Rays are really good teams and we need to push ourselves before the next phase of League begins.”
Post bagging the Hero Goal of the Match award, Harjeet Singh of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “I am very happy to be a part of the team and play with so many experienced players. It helps us to learn a lot. The first and second quarter of today’s game were little dull but we made a good comeback in the last two quarters of the game.”
Hero Goal of the Match – Harjeet Singh
Man of the Match – V R Raghunath