Delhi WaveRiders took on the Wizards at home for the last league match in front of their home fans at the Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi. Delhi went into the match unbeaten and confident of keeping the record intact. UP, on the other hand, had flattered to deceive so far, and after having started well they soon looked like a team not able to gel properly with each other’s playing style, and the lack of quality experienced strikers up front made goals hard to come by. They were however determined to set the record straight against Delhi this time, and started the match brightly.
The UP team looked determined to earn a result, producing some fluid flowing hockey and showing flashes of brilliance. Delhi on the other hand seemed laid back and were shockingly poor, having almost no penetrations in the first quarter. The quarter ended with the fans rather frustrated and UP much the better team of the two. In the second, the Wizards continued from where they had left off in the first quarter, but the Delhi team too looked to be getting into the rhythm and forced a good save off goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam.
The teams remain locked 0-0 at HT in what had turned out to be a dampener of a match thus far. The second half finally saw the score-keepers disturbed after Jeroen Hertzberger scored to put UP ahead. Jeroen collected the ball in the middle of the field and then beat almost three midfield players before striking the ball fiercely with a reverse hit, a shot that left Nicholas Jacobi helpless. The UP players now had their tails up and went all out in attack in the lookout for their second, and that they did when young striker Uthappa tapped in from close range.
The Delhi team, which has fortunately not found itself on the back foot ever in the tournament so far, suddenly looked rattled and desperate, which yielded errors. UP however went from strength to strength as the match progressed, and capitalised on Delhi’s sloppy play to triple their lead, with young striker Somanna Pudiyokkada scoring. Delhi now seemed a beaten team, but pressed on to peg one back when Neil Hayward scored from a penalty corner.
UP however continued with their attacking play and rounded off a brilliant win when an unmarked Gunasekar slotted home from the left flank past Jacobi after receiving a fine pass from Thimmiah. Delhi suffered their first loss in the process, which was a much-needed wake-up call ahead of the semi-final clash. With this match’s result taken into consideration, Delhi will face the Warriors in the semis, as the Wizards take on the Rhinos in the other semi.
Score : UP (Jeroen Hertzberger, S K Uthappa, Somanna Pudiyokkada and Gunasekar Malayalan) 4-1 Delhi (Hayward)
Goal of the Day: Pradhan Somanna
Man-of-the-Match: Jerone Hertzberger