Ranchi, 02 February 2013: Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Ranchi Rhinos played out a 1-1 draw at Birsa Munda Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi in the Hero Hockey India League on Saturday.
After Malak Singh put the visitors ahead, Mandeep Singh scored a superb diving goal to bring the hosts back in the game.
Warriors had goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann to keep them in the game, with the Dutchman making at least 10 saves in the match.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors started the match well, and entered the Rhinos’ D twice in the first five minutes. Rhinos responded by making their own move, but neither of the goalkeeper was really tested. Warriors earned their first penalty corner in the 10th minute, when SV Sunil was checked by Kothajit. The first drag flick hit the rusher’s leg, resulting in another penalty corner. The second one, struck by Christopher Cirielo, was brilliantly saved by Cortes.
Malak Singh eventually put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute. Robert Hammond made a hard long pass, and Malak Singh was in the right place to just deflect the ball past Cortes.
Warriors played much more defensively in the second quarter, and Rhinos took full advantage. They entered the Warriors circle regularly, and most part of the quarter was played in Warriors half. The equaliser just looked like a matter of time, and eventually arrived in the 33rd minute. A good counter was started by Birendra Lakra, who gave the ball to Nick Wilson. Wilson did the spade work, attracted a number of defenders and passed the ball right in front of the goal, where Mandeep Singh made a diving connection to beat Jaap Stockmann and bring the hosts right back in the game.
Rhinos could have taken the lead in the third quarter, when Ashley Jackson and Nick Wilson combined well. Nick had a clear strike on goal, which was once again beautifully saved by Stockmann in the 40th minute. Rhinos again missed a chance of going ahead in the 52nd minute when Lakra’s clever pass went to Stanley. Stanley tried to guide the ball past Stockmann, but ended up hitting it just wide.
Warriors almost took the lead in the last few seconds of the third quarter when Jamie Dwyer’s cross was deflected by Malak Singh, before Cortes made a fabulous diving goal-line save.
Both teams made some good moves in the last 10 minutes. Mauris Fuertse had a chance to score for Rhinos, but his low and powerful reverse hit was kicked out by an ever alert Stockmann.
Stockmann made two more brilliant saves in the last two minutes to ensure Warriors got two points from the game.
Warriors coach Barry Dancer praised his players, especially his goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann. “The way we played and drew the match, it shows our improvement in various areas in the team. Stockmann played outstanding today and at the level he reached in this match, our forward and defender will also reach at that level,” the Coach stated at the post-match press conference.
Ranchi Rhinos coach Gregg Clark said that the overall performance of the players in this match is very good. “I am happy with the performance. We had a strategy for today’s match but it often happens with all of us that we expect something and don’t get it,” Clarke added.
The Hero Hockey India League is organised by Hockey India with official sanction from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The inaugural season is being played from January 14 to February 10, 2013 in a home-and-away format. The five franchisee-based teams, consisting of the top hockey players from India and around the world, will compete for the prestigious trophy. Hero Motocorp Ltd. is the Title Sponsor of the league while Airtel is the Associate Sponsor. Star Sports, who is the Broadcast Partner, will be telecasting all matches live.
HERO Goal of the Day: Mandeep Singh
Man-of-the-Match: Jaap Stockmann