HIL: Dabang Mumbai closer to knockouts with win over JPW

Despite having dominated in every department, Dabang Mumbai needed a desperate shot 28 seconds from time to register a 2-1 victory against Jaypee Punjab Warriors. The win took the team closer to a maiden entry to semifinals.


Florin Fuchs of Dabang Mumbai carries forward an attack against Jaypee Punjab Warriors.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Having done everything right all through the match and dominating in every department, Dabang Mumbai needed a desperate shot 28 seconds from time to win 2-1 against Jaypee Punjab Warriors and all but seal a spot in the semifinals of the Hockey India League (HIL) for the first time ever here on Saturday.

The visitor was all over JPW even as the host, for the second game in a row, appeared disorganised. Just like its previous home game against Ranchi Rays, JPW was defensive all through in contrast to the attacking game it had played in all its away games. One penalty corner and two shots at goal was all JPW could manage.

Clemons impresses

Mumbai had its first chance in the third minute when captain Florian Fuchs made a solo dart into the striking circle but found JPW goalkeeper Tristan Clempons in his way. A rebound again saw Clemons parry it away and it was the story of the day for the rest of the game.

Affan Yousuf put Gurjant Singh through in the 10th minute and Clemons again stood tall. Mumbai kept attacking and Clemons, Man-of-the-match again despite ending on the losing side, kept thwarting them.

Mumbai custodian David Harte had little to do. The ball rarely came into his half and when it did, JPW failed to get into the circle. The two occasions it managed were thanks to S.V. Sunil setting up Jake Whetton, who hit wide in the 30th and 68th minutes.

Mumbai's domination can be gauged from the fact that, apart from the lone penalty corner of the match that saw Mink van der Weerden putting the host ahead in the 37th minute, the ball reached Mumbai circle in the second half for the first time in the 66th minute as JPW finally seemed to wake up from its slumber. In between, Nilakanta Sharma’s goal was cancelled after Gurjant was found obstructing Clemons.

A referral for PC from Mumbai in the last 40 seconds was turned down but Mark Knowles’s free hit for JPW was intercepted at the 25-yard line by Robbert Kemperman, who took advantage of an empty defence and an unprepared Clemons to finally slot in a reverse shot.

With field goals counting as two, it was enough for Mumbai to advance to 28 points and one foot in the knockouts for the first time in five seasons.

The result: Dabang Mumbai 2 (Robbert Kemperman 2 FG) bt Jaypee Punjab Warriors 1 (Mink van der Weerden 1 PC).

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