HIL: Mumbai hammer UP for maiden win
Mumbai, Jan 30 : Dabur Mumbai Magicians tasted their maiden win the Hero Hockey India League with a 4-0 hammering of Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the Mahindra stadium here Wednesday.
Jonny Jasrotia (11th minute), Jason Wilson (45) and Sandeep Singh (52, 66) sounded the board for the hosts to keep their hopes alive of making it to the semi-finals of the inaugural edition of the competition.
"This is our first win in the tournament and we are very happy today. We have been playing well in the last few matches and we hope to keep improving," said Sandeep after the match.
The Magicians faced a do-or-die battle in this encounter between two bottom placed teams and came out with the clear intention to take the battle to their opponents on the home turf.
They pressed forward in numbers and dominated the possession for the first 10 minutes and were duly rewarded with a penalty corner after a melee inside the striking circle.
With drag-flick expert Sandeep on the bench, Haryana youngster Jonny Jasrotia stepped up in style to pass the ball between the legs of Wizards custodian George Bazeley to draw first blood for the hosts.
The Magicians continued to make forays into the Wizards territory but the forward once against came a cropper when it came to converting half chances into goals and Sandeep also missed out on the only other penalty corner at the end of the first quarter.
After the change of ends, the hosts were all the more dominating and they walked away with honours in the third quarter to ensure their first victory in the competition.
Their Australian recruit Jason Wilson showed good presence of mind to receive a long ball inside the striking circle and deflect it off the goalkeeper to find an angle for a goal.
Sandeep Singh then got into the act seven minutes later when he beat Bazeley to the left hand corner off his second drag flick of the match.
The visitors sacrificed their goalkeeper to reduce the goal margin for the last 10 minutes but that move backfired as Sandeep had the easiest of opportunities to score off a penalty corner to complete the tally.
Magician goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh ensured that there was no pressure on the hosts with half a dozen critical saves and kept a clean slate.
"I think we did not start off well, we did not get many chances. We've played well during the beginning of this tournament, we need to just make sure to play differently now in the coming matches," said coach Roelant Oltmans.
Wizards skipper V.R. Raghunath said: "We need to stay as a team, we can't really blame anybody. The table is still open, we don't want to take this loss to our heart, but just want to do well ahead. You can't take pressure here; we are just aiming to be on a good side. We are going to concentrate completely on the next two matches, as they are the crucial ones".
"I'm pleased with today's performance. I've always said its a long distance race. Our team is playing better every game and the spirit has been terrific. We still have a chance and our focus is completely on tomorrow's match. We've had a difficult schedule but we have a young team and I hope that works in our favour" said Wizards coach Ric Charlesworth.
The Magicians would now face Jaypee Punjab Warriors on their home turf Thursday while the Wizards would wait for the Magicians to visit Lucknow for the return leg Saturday.