Jaypee Punjab Warriors ended the league phase of the Hero Hockey India League on a disappointing note, being beaten 2-3 by Delhi Waveriders at their home ground Surjit Singh Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar.
Warriors, who have already sealed their place in the semi-finals, lost their second home game in two days, being beaten 3-2 by Ranchi Rhinos on Monday. For Waveriders, yet to be beaten in the tournament, Rupinder Pal Singh scored with a drag flick, before Oscar Deecke and Lloyd Norris-Jones scored a goal each.
With both teams having already booked their place in the semis, the game was expected to be played at good pace, and that's what happened at the start, a HIL media release said.
After both teams made one attack each, Delhi Waveriders earned a penalty corner in the seventh minute, as Simon Child launched the move and Danish Mujtaba's push hit a Warriors' defender. Rupinder Pal Singh completely bamboozled Warriors goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann with his drag flick, as the Dutchman went to his left, while the ball went right in the centre of the goalpost.
Warriors could have equalised a couple of minutes later, as first SV Sunil missed a sitter, and then Ciriello's drag flick was intercepted by the charger.
And Waveriders' made Warriors pay for that in the 11th minute, by increasing their lead to two goals. Danish was once again involved as he set up Oskar Deecke, and the German smacked a shot that went to the right of Warriors' goalie into the net.
Warriors managed to pull one goal back in the last minute of the first quarter, as Dharamveer Singh's cross from the right flank was deflected in by Malak Singh.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Lloyd Norris Jones scored to restore Waveriders' two-goal lead. Collecting ball from left, Norris-Jones hammered a reverse hit past the Warriors' goalkeeper. Once again Warriors' defence was caught napping, with nobody willing to tackle Norris-Jones.
There was more danger for the hosts in the 34th minute, as Norris-Jones made a brilliant solo move. Collecting ball from half-line, Norris-Jones went alone, beat a couple of defenders, before his final shot was blocked by the Warriors' goalie.
Warriors got back to back penalty corners in the third quarter, but were denied by the rock solid goalie of Waveriders, Nicolas Jacobi. Jacobi took the first one on his body, saved second one with his left leg, and then dived to his right to save the rebound that had gone to a Warriors' player.
Five minutes later, it was the turn of Bharat Chetri, who had replaced Stockmann in the Warriors' goal, to face a penalty corner. And Chetri was equal to the task, taking Rupinder's drag flick on his body.
In the final quarter, Dharamveer completely failed to connect on a parallel pass in front of an open goal. Dharamveer threw his stick to the ground in disgust, which told the story. There was still enough time for the hosts to earn another penalty corner. This time it was the turn of Rob Hammond to take the drag flick, but the end result was no different. Jacobi dived to his right to stop the ball, and then the ball was hit out of the danger area.
The hosts got a consolation goal in the last minute, as they got their act on a penalty corner right finally. Christopher Ciriello's drag flick went low to the right of Jacobi, as Warriors managed to reduce the losing margin.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors captain Jamie Dwyers said that their team need to be more aggressive. "We need to play more aggressively as the Hero Hockey India League is very tough competition. We will make some changes for the Semi-Final match and play with more aggression," Dwyer stated at the post-match press conference.
Delhi Waveriders skipper Sardar Singh is very happy with his team's performance. "We are playing very well and we are getting good results from our strategies. Today's match was a preparation match for Semi-Final," said Sardar and added: "There is an immense pressure in every match but we are handling pressure well. We have been one-sided winner in most of the matches."