What’s the story?
The Delhi Waveriders were all set to make it three wins in a row at home as they led 2-1 against Dabang Mumbai with less than 30 seconds to go. However, a Florian Fuchs field goal from a fine Harmanpreet Singh pass saw them concede four points on the points table as Mumbai overturned yet another deficit in the in the dying moments of the game.
Coach Cedric D’Souza rued his side’s spate of missed opportunities and said that the game could have gone either way. He said, “One momentary lapse and four points gone! It’s a cruel sport but we’re still in the race. There’s a lot of hockey still to be played.”
The Delhi side, led by ace drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, won seven penalty corners but failed to convert any of those opportunities. When asked what he thought about his team’s short corner conversion rate, D’Souza was defiant. “It was not for a lack of trying. David Harte (Mumbai’s goalkeeper) had a great game, I have to admit. I believe in my team and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on my players. The results will follow,” he said.
Jason Stacy, the Dabang Mumbai coach, admitted that his team were fortunate to take home the victory. “We knew that Delhi were a fast, attacking team. I’m pleased we fought till the very end. With the semis coming up, there are still a lot of areas we need to work on,” said the Australian.
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Delhi were on the upsurge after recording two wins in a row against the UP Warriors and Kalinga Lancers but after this setback, they still find themselves out of the top four with three games to play.
On the other hand, it is three wins on the trot for Dabang Mumbai, who had already secured their place in the semi-finals with a last-gasp victory in Chandigarh against the Punjab Warriors.
The heart of the matter
It was a topsy-turvy game that ultimately saw the away side have the last laugh. They led 1-0 at half-time thanks to a 24th-minute penalty corner conversion from Kieran Govers, but fell behind in the third quarter thanks to a wonder goal from Mandeep Singh, who swivelled inside the penalty circle and scored with a fine off-balance reverse hit.
Delhi had multiple chances to put the game to bed in the final quarter, including two penalty corners, but failed to convert any. They were punished with 25 seconds to go after German talisman Florian Fuchs deflected in a sweeping pass from Harmanpreet Singh from the 25-yard line into the back of the net.
The Waveriders have three games left, including one at home against the Ranchi Rays, coupled with away games against UP and Punjab. The Mumbai side are already through to the knockouts and have one league fixture against the UP Wizards remaining.
The HIL has seen quite a few close finishes this season and this game was another addition to the list. Delhi need to pull up their socks if they wish to reach the final four as such errors can prove very costly when things go down to the wire. One error is all it takes to make or break an entire campaign and they must ensure that such an instance is not repeated again.