Struggling Wizards registers its second win

P. R. Sreejesh stretched, dove and sprinted to keep the DWR strikers at bay. At the other end, the forward line finally came good.

V. R. Raghunath exults along with his teammate after scoring the goal against Delhi Waveriders.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Eleven penalty corners and not one resulted in a goal as the Delhi Waveriders lost 4-6 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in its opening home game of the fourth Hockey India League here on Monday.

The former champion was thwarted by UP goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh, who ensured the second win for his team after three consecutive losses at home. The India goalkeeper stretched, dove and sprinted to keep the DWR strikers at bay. At the other end, the forward line finally came good.

The visitors, struggling to score despite playing attacking hockey, were desperate for victory. Defender Wouter Jolie had admitted the team was looking to play 60 minutes the way it did for the first 30 so far and the players seemed up for the challenge. Starting aggressively as always UP got the first chance early on but Ramandeep Singh hit straight to DWR goalkeeper Devon Manchester.

The host lost no time on the counter and earned its first penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh's shot was parried by a stretching Sreejesh. In the second quarter, both teams went on the offensive but muffed chances upfront – Mandeep's pass from the backline going waste for DWR and Harmanpreet Singh's solo effort sailing over the post for UP -- before UP got its first penalty corner and Raghunath made no mistake in sounding the board. DWR earned six back-to-back penalty corners at the stroke of half-time but Sreejesh and Raghunath saved them all.

The last two quarters saw both teams going all out for the goals and earned a series of penalty corners but the game was confined largely to the midfield. It took Chinglensana Singh, receiving the ball on the go and slamming it into an empty goal, to re-energise the proceedings in the 54th minute. A minute later, Jamie Dwyer stamped his class with a solo run from the half line past three defenders to put Akashdeep Singh through. Crossing over into the striking circle, he received the ball back and sent it into the net to extend the lead.

With nothing to lose, the host threw everything into the game and seconds later, Justin Red-Ross got his team on the scoresheet with a brilliant reverse hit. A penalty corner to either side saw UP add one more to its tally while DWR successfully sent the ball out of the striking circle in an attempt to get a field goal and Talwinder Singh did the job. It was, however, a little too late for the host.

Result: Uttar Pradesh Wizards 6 (Chinglensana Singh 2 FG, Jamie Dwyer 2 FG, V. R. Raghunath PC, Gonzalo Peillat PC) bt Delhi Waveriders 4 (Justin Reid Ross 2 FG, Talwinder Singh 2 FG).

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