HIL: Delhi Waveriders lose to Punjab Warriors 2-5

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) Delhi Waveriders suffered their second successive loss at home going down 2-5 to Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Shivaji Hockey Stadium here on Tuesday.

Warriors posted a dominating win and scored through Mark Gleghorne (10th minute), Mark Knowles (11th), Chris Ciriello (22nd) — all from penalty corners — and Jake Whetton (37th), who hit a field goal that is counted as two in this edition of HIL.

Waveriders, who lost to Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-6 on Monday, got their two goals from Rupinder Pal Singh, who converted two penalty corners in the 35th and 55th minutes and showed a lot of intent after failing to score out of a dozen in their previous match.

With this win, Warriors removed Waveriders from the third spot with 17 points — same as Kalinga Lancers — but behind on goal difference. The defeat for Waveriders, on 17 points, didn’t earn them even a consolatory point as they lost by three goals.

Waveriders were expected to put up an improved show but they wilted under early pressure exerted by the Warriors.

Spotting a weak and nervy defence, the Warriors created trouble with quick counter-attacks. The attacking line of S.V. Sunil, Gleghorne, Jake Whetton combined well and they were pushed forward with high quality ball distributions from Sardar Singh and Simon Orchard.

Their high-pressing game enabed even their entire defence line to surge forward.

Their first realistic chance came in the ninth minute when ace defender Mark Knowles played the ball to Gleghorne at the top centre of the circle and the latter put a through ball for Jake Whetton to deflect. However, Whetton’s touch was half-hearted and went straight to goalkeeper Devon Manchester.

However, the visitors found the lead a minute later as Knowles earned a penalty corner which was converted by Gleghorne.

Continuing the high-pressing Australian style game, Warriors doubled the lead in the next minute. During a penalty corner execution, Gleghorne’s flick was blocked by a diving goalkeeper Manchester and the ball deflected to Knowles, who then managed to find the right side of the net.

The hosts tried their best but they failed to breach the Warriors defence. The Australian pair of Knowles and Ciriello – both were in contention for 2015’s World Player of the Year award — didn’t allow their compatriot goalkeeper Tristian Clemons to be in trouble.

At the other end, Gurwinder Singh Chandi was fouled by Manchester during a co-ordinated raid with Chris Ciriello in the 22nd minute. It earned a penalty corner for the visiting side and Ciriello fired a grounder to make it 3-0.

The hosts were much more determined and aggressive after the break and scored a field goal through captain Simon Child but it was denied after Knowles opted for a video referral.

Delhi opened their account from a penalty corner from Rupinder Pal Singh, who flicked the ball on to the roof of the goal to lift the home teams’ morale in the 35th minute.

However, Warriors took only two minutes to torment them again as Nithin Thimmaiah moved inside the circle to unleash a powerful back-hand strike that was deflected in by Whetton, making it 5-1.

Delhi countered the goal by earning two consecutive penalty corners but Clemons was up to the task to keep away Rupinder’s flick at the close of the third quarter.

Warriors surged forward for their third victory in the tournament and got two penalty corners in the final quarter but Delhi stood firm.

Waveriders tried to put Warriors under pressure, earning a penalty corner in the 55th minute. Rupinder gave the hosts their second goal with another drag-flick.

Waveriders made some desperate attempts but the Warriors defence held their nerves.

Waveriders travel to Bhubaneswar to face Kalinga Lancers on Friday, while Warriors host Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Chandigarh on Thursday.

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