Jaypee Punjab Warriors defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2-1 to take the second spot on the points table at the International Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.
The last time these two teams met, they played out a 2-2 draw.
Today, the host was clearly the better team and more desperate for a win while Wizards were wayward.
That Warriors won despite a lacklustre defence and a profligate attack only underline the mediocre performance of the visitors.Dwyer strikes
Warriors took the lead in the 21st minute when Jamie Dwyer shot past a clueless Wizards goalkeeper Srinivas Rao from the left after being put through by S.V. Sunil on a counter.
A minute earlier, Wizards’ Nikkin Thimmaiah had made a solo foray into the opposition’s empty circle but the rest of his team simply watched from the half-line, without bothering to back him up.
Nikkin and Pardeep Mor on either flank did their best to stitch together some moves but there was no one else to support their efforts.
This was only Dwyer’s second goal of the tournament but the Australian legend’s importance stems from the fact that he was in the middle of every possible move by his team.
Supported by Sunil, Affan Yousuf and Agustin Mazzilli, Dwyer helped Warriors keep creating chances at will, only to waste them later.
Sandeep Singh converted Warriors’ only penalty corner in the 29th minute.
In the final quarter, Malak Singh, Simon Orchard and Shivendra Singh were all guilty of either shooting wide or not trapping the ball in front of an empty net. Wizards earned two penalty corners but with captain V.R. Raghunath rested, they amounted to nothing.
With arguably the most expensive forward line in the Hockey India League, they played like clueless amateurs. Hugo Inglis redeemed himself after wasting a couple of chances by reducing the margin for Wizards in the 35th minute but that was the only high point for the UP team.
Warriors next play the defending champion Ranchi Rhinos in its penultimate league outing on Sunday while Wizards return home for their last game.
The result: Jaypee Punjab Warriors 2 (Jamie Dwyer, Sandeep Singh) bt Uttar Pradesh Wizards 1 (Hugo Inglis).
Friday’s result: Kalinga Lancers 4 (Aron Zalewski 23, Devinder Walmiki 27, Gonzalo Peillat 33, 69) bt Ranchi Rhinos 1 (Pradhan Somanna 44).