Uttar Pradesh Wizards coasted to comfortable 3-1 win over debutants Kalinga Lancers and jumped to the third position in the second edition of Hockey India League (HIL) here on Sunday. UP Wizards scored two goals in the first two quarters while their third goal came just seconds from the final hooter.
Skipper V R Raghunath gave UP Wizards the lead in the 17th minute by converting a penalty corner before young striker Nikkin Thimmaiah doubled the home team's lead in the 41st minute with a field strike. Kalinga Lancers, however, pulled a goal back in the 59th minute through their star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat who found the back of UP Wizards net from a penalty corner to raise his team's hopes.
The hosts, however, managed to hold on to their lead with some stout defending. They struck in the final minute of the game when legendary Dutchman Teun de Nooijer scored a field goal to seal the match in his side's favour. The win gave UP Wizards five points which enabled them to jump to the third position in the standings with 21 points from seven games. The Lancers will next play Jaypee Punjab Warriors at Mohali on Tuesday while the UP Wizards will travel to Bhubaneswar to take on Kalinga Lancers in the return leg match on February 13.
Speaking on the performance of the team, Wizards head coach Roelant Oltmans, said, "It's a happy moment for us today as we have finally won our first match on home ground. Today we started with an advantage and scored two quick goals which helped boost the morale of the team and which helped us win the match."
Tushar Khandker of UP Wizards said, "We created a lot of chances and this will help us continue this in the forthcoming matches. The win today was important for us as this gets us closer to the semi-finals."
Kalinga Lancers' Head Coach Terry Walsh, said he was not happy with the result. "While the team played very well in the first half of the game but they could not keep the momentum in the second half. There were opportunities but we let them go. We need to understand that winning is important for which the score board must keep ticking. Semi Finals seems a difficult scenario if we continue in this manner," he said.
Kalinga Lancers Captain Kiel Brown said it was not the result they expected.