HIL: Wizards defeat Lancers in thrilling opener

The experiment of treating a field goal as two seemed to have served its purpose as Uttar Pradesh Wizards defeated Kalinga Lancers 8-6 in a thrilling inaugural match of the fourth Hockey India League (HIL) at the Kalinga Stadium here on Monday.

Uttar Pradesh Wizards defeated Kalinga Lancers 8-6 in the inaugural match of the 2016 Hockey India League.   -  Special Arrangement

The experiment of treating a field goal as two seemed to have served its purpose as Uttar Pradesh Wizards defeated Kalinga Lancers 8-6 in a thrilling inaugural match of the fourth Hockey India League (HIL) at the Kalinga Stadium here on Monday.

With the revolutionary rule making its debut, the fate of both the sides swung dramatically in the action-packed encounter featuring seven scoring shots in the form of field goals in front of a vociferous crowd of 7000. The Wizards, trailing 4-6, snatched a sensational win from the jaws of defeat after last minute goals from Edward Ockenden and Akashdeep Singh.

The team from Uttar Pradesh explored both the flanks early and tasted success in the ninth minute when Wouter Jolie utilised a beautiful through pass from P.R. Aiyappa to earn a two-goal lead. Ramandeep Singh and Kenneth Bain combined well upfront to trouble the Lancers' defence before the latter pushed in from close, putting the Wizards 4-0 up.

The Lancers fought back to erase a four-goal deficit within the first two quarters. Pardeep Mor ran up the field to complete a fine move from the right in the 15th minute. They stepped up their aggression to put the Wizards under pressure and the busy Glenn Turner deflected in a cross to draw parity.

While Moritz Fuerste and Aran Zalewski led a more compact Lancers defence, the forward line worked in cohesion to pump in another field goal in the third quarter. Turner struck again after Dharamvir Singh and Dipsan Tirkey's shots at the goal were valiantly blocked by P.R. Sreejesh.

Fuerste scored off a short corner but the goal was disallowed by the umpires.

The Wizards replied with four penalty corners in the final 15 minutes but Lancers custodian Andrew Charter moved well to foil the attempts. Captain V.R. Raghunath spoiling a penalty stroke added to the Wizards' woes.

The Wizards forwards, nevertheless, kept pressing hard and succeeded in turning the table on Lancers, who lost their way in the last few minutes.

“Players from five different nations have trained for just five days. I am happy with the result but we have to make a lot of progress,” said Wizards coach Roger van Gent.

Uttar Pradesh Wizards 8 (Wouter Jolie 2FG 9th minute, Kenneth Bain 2FG 14, Edward Ockenden 2FG 60, Akashdeep Singh 2FG 60) bt Kalinga Lancers 6 (Pardeep Mor 2FG 15, Glenn Turner 2FG 29 and 2FG 37).