Hockey

Punjab Warriors off to a winning start

It was a victorious start for host Jaypee Punjab Warriors at the Sector 42 Stadium here on Tuesday, as it avenged its defeat in the title clash last season with a 2-0 victory against defending champion Ranchi Rays in its opener of the fourth Hockey India League (HIL).

With the new scoring rule of a field goal being considered double its value, teams were expected to be on the attack. But unlike the season opener in Bhubaneswar that saw 14 goals being scored, the battle remained confined to the midfield here.

Ranchi captain Ashley Jackson had warned even before the tournament started that there may be more defensive play from teams wary of conceding field goals, and his team did exactly that.

Punjab tried its best to force the pace and came close to scoring more than once but was denied by a stubborn defence and a solid Tyler Lovell in the goal. Lovell saved three penalty corners and at least two other clear field goal chances to deny the host a bigger victory margin.

Ironically, it was a defensive lapse and a hurried Lovell that gave Punjab its only goal in the second minute. Jake Whetton received a gem of a pass from captain Sardar Singh on the right. Lovell rushed to the top of the striking circle, Whetton was unmarked, the defenders caught unawares, and shot into an empty goal.

Sardar was instrumental in creating at least half-a-dozen chances through the game, repeatedly feeding Whetton and S.V. Sunil, but the forwards failed to break past a packed Ranchi defence. Manpreet Singh tried to be creative in his forays upfront in combination with Amir Khan but there was little support. There was a lone penalty corner chance but Ashley Jackson’s grounded shot was saved easily by Tristan Clemons.



“It was an early goal that did us in but I am not disappointed with the way my team played,” Ranchi coach Harendra Singh said.

The fact that the 28,000-strong stadium that has seen full houses could only manage to attract about 5000 people and no clarity on entry — whether ticketed or free — though, should be a concern for the organisers.

The result:

Jaypee Punjab Warriors 2 (Whetton-FG) bt Ranchi Rays 0.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 3:24:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/Punjab-Warriors-off-to-a-winning-start/article14008097.ece

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