Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Uttar Pradesh Wizards shared two points each after playing a 2-2 draw in the Hero Hockey India League at the Surjit Singh Hockey Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Goals from Shivendra Singh and Malak Singh gave Warriors the lead, but Raghunath got Wizards back on both occasions, converting penalty corners.
The first half was not played at express pace. Both teams started cautiously, and Uttar Pradesh Wizards, in particular, seemed to be conserving energy at the start.
The first really meaningful move of the first quarter came from Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the eighth minute. Dharamvir Singh got a good ball inside Wizards' D, and just as he tried to beat a defender, Dharamvir tripped him wrongly, earning a penalty stroke for the Warriors.
Australian Mark Knowles missed a good opportunity to put the hosts ahead, as his penalty stroke struck the right post. Warriors did eventually take the lead though, four minutes later.
With wizards playing defensively, Warriors pushed more players forward, and SV Sunil and Gurmail Singh combined well before Shivendra Singh tapped the ball in the net from right in front of the goal-post.
Warriors continued to dominate the play after that, before, against the run of play, Wizards' earned a penalty corner in the 24th minute. Raghunath was spot on with his drag flick, giving Stockmann no chance to stop the ball.
Warriors needed just four minutes to go ahead again. Malak Singh received an overhead pass, which he controlled well. Despite a defender being close to Singh, goalkeeperJaap Stockmann came charging out of his goal-post, and ended up misreading the ball, as Malak rounded him and calmly hit the ball in the empty goal.
Wizards had skipper Raghunath to thank for another equaliser. Tushar Khandekar beat two Warriors defenders, and had a good chance to score, but his hit struck Gulmail's foot, earning Wizards a penalty corner in the last minute of the second quarter. Raghunath hit the inside of goalkeeper's left foot before going in.
Third quarter failed to produce too many clear-cut chances. There were some good moves, mostly by Warriors, as Wizards continued to sit back. The hosts had a chance to get ahead in the last couple of minutes of the penultimate quarter, as they earned back to back penalty corners.
Raghunath's drag-flick on the first hit the rusher, while the second one was brilliantly saved by Jaap Stockmann diving to his right.
There were a number of disorganised moves in the fourth quarter too, with none ending up in anything constructive. Bharat Chetri, who replaced Stockmann in the last quarter, made a couple of brilliant saves in the last minute of the game to keep Wizards in the game.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors Captain, Jamie Dyer, said, "I am slightly disappointed today since I did hope we would win. But I am reasonably happy with our performance today and feel that we are surely coming together as a team and improving after every match."
Barry Dancer, Coach Jaypee Punjab Warriors, said, "I am happy with the teams' performance today, we are improving and see ourselves playing well in our upcoming games."
VR Raghunath, Captain of Uttar Pradesh Wizards, said, "It was a great match, I think the goalkeepers of the both the teams did a fantastic job. Hope to keep the momentum going and play well in our next match against Ranchi."
"The team did well tonight and I am happy with their performance. The next game is going to be thriller and we look forward to it," said Roelant Oltmans, Coach UP Wizards.
In their next home match, Jaypee Punjab Warriors take on Dabur Mumbai Magicians and Uttar Pradesh Wizards will play their next home match against Ranchi Rhinos.