Bhubaneswar, Feb. 4 (ANI): Kalinga Lancers eked out a narrow 6-5 win over Jaypee Punjab Warriors, their first-ever victory against the defending champions, to surge to the top of the standings in the ongoing fifth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) here last evening.
It was German stalwart Moritz Fuerste who struck twice (18′ and 28′) while Glenn Turner (11′) and SK Uthappa (32′) scored to ensure the home team bagged five points from the match, despite a late surge by the visitors, and topple Dabang Mumbai from top of the points table.
The encounter between Kalinga Lancers and defending Champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors brought back memories from last year’s Hockey India League when the two top teams met in the final and this time Kalinga Lancers looked to avenge the loss.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic and loud Bhubaneswar crowd, there was no doubt that this game was of high stakes and the teams would not disappoint.
The first quarter witnessed the two teams trading penalty corners and it was Jaypee Punjab Warriors who won the match’s first penalty corner, thanks to Jake Whetton. The visitors found a perfect chance to take the lead in only the 2nd minute of the match. Though Mink Van Der Weerden successfully converted the goal, the umpire denied them the early lead as the ball was trapped within the circle and not outside.
Kalinga Lancers were quick on winning their first penalty corner in the 9th minute, the flick by Gurjinder Singh was brilliantly saved by Tristan Clemons. But the home team were unrelenting, keen on getting off to a good start they pressed hard in their attack, and it paid off when Glenn Turner struck early. It was Matthew Dawson’s perfect pass forward that found Glenn Turner within the circle who tapped it fiercely into the post giving the home team a 2-0 lead in the 11th minute.
The home team continued to dominate the second quarter too as they found yet another break through when their skipper Moritz Fuerste successfully used the video referral to win his team their second penalty corner. The German is rarely off the mark when it comes to converting penalty corners and this time too he was inch perfect when he deflected the ball between Clements legs, after an improvised injection by Glenn Turner. This took the Kalinga Lancers score to 3-0.
The Kalinga Lancers played an inspired game making plenty of forays into the striking circle, but couldn’t quite convert a field goal. But the pressure saw Jaypee Punjab Warriors defenders fumble in the circle, gifting Kalinga Lancers their third penalty corner. It was in-form German Moritz Fuerste who took the flick again and he showcased precision yet again. This goal in the 28th minute ensured they went into half-time with a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Coorg lad SK Uthappa starred in the third quarter for Kalinga Lancers when he fired an electric counter attack, intercepting the Jaypee Punjab Warriors defender only to race into the circle working with Glenn Turner to put one past the keeper in the 32nd minute.
The defending champions finally pulled one through a field goal by Mark Gleghorne in the 34th minutue. Jaypee Punjab Warriors converted another goal, this time through a penalty corner and it was Gurdaspur’s Satbir Singh who fired the ball into the post, off a rebound, in the 35th minute to reduce the deficit to three goals.
The final quarter saw some tense moments, with Jaypee Punjab Warriors making desperate attempt to come back into the game. Despite the home team’s defenders doing their best to keep the lead, the defending Champions won a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and Mink Wan Der Weerden converted this one, closing their goal difference to 4-6. SV Sunil won the visitors yet another penalty corner in the dying minutes of the match and a stunning variation attempting for a field goal was successfully converted by Arman Qureshi in the 57th minute but the goal counted for just one goal instead two as it was trapped by Robert Van Der Horst inside the five-meter circle.