The Magic again went missing in the Mumbai ranks as they succumbed to their eight defeat, to Punjab Warriors by a 1-3 margin, in their ninth match of the Hockey India League at the Mahindra Stadium tonight. Punjab had won both encounters between the two sides earlier. The visitors led 2-0 at half-time.
Man of the match Dharamvir Singh, Rob Hammond and Malak Singh scored for the visitors while Liam de Young reduced the margin for the hosts by deflecting in the first penalty corner that Mumbai earned early in the third session. Punjab remain in third position despite the win with 25 points while the hosts remain in the cellar with 13 points though they are still not out of the semi-final race.
After their overwhelming victory over Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the same venue yesterday, much was expected of the Mumbai side, but they were a disjointed lot today though there was no lack of effort on their part. Both teams played in the 4-3-3 formation in this battle between two veteran Australian coaches who are hugely familiar with each other’s work.
Yesterday’s heroes were today’s villains for Mumbai. P R Sreejesh came to Mumbai’s rescue early on when he saved Simon Orchard’s shot in the 6th minute but was responsible for conceding the opening goal.
Dharamvir opened the account for Punjab in the first session when Sreejesh cleared a cross from the left flank into his path and he made the most of the offering with a crisp push into the net. Sreejesh however made a few good saves to keep the tally down, including a Sandeep Singh would-have-been self-goal just before the first half ended.
Top scorer Sandeep, who picked up a slight injury early on in the match, got three chances to show off his prowess at penalty corners but could not add to his tally of 11 goals. In the backline, he was his usual blundering self and Punjab coach Barry tried to make him dance to the Warriors’ tune by regularly pulling out goalkeeper Jaap Stockman and brining in another foreign outfield player to pile on the pressure.
Mumbai had a few chances to turn the game around but it was not destined to be their day as Stockman rose to the occasion when required and once, Lucas Rey pulled off a goalline save off Sandeep’s drag flick when the Dutch custodian was beaten.
Midfielder Hammond scored the second goal for Punjab in the second quarter, turning in a cross from the right flank from Simon Orchard while lurking at the far post, with the entire Mumbai defence caught napping.
Malak’s third goal for Punjab came from another counter in the fourth session off a Dharamvir pass. He found himself in a one-to-one situation with the goalkeeper but yet managed to bundle the ball in from a narrow angle.