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Dazzlers stretch Veerans
January 19, 2006 19:10 IST
Chennai Veerans survived anxious moments but ended their campaign on a winning note after overcoming a strong challenge from Delhi Dazzlers 2-1 in Tier II of the Premier Hockey League, at the Sector 42 Hockey stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Veerans, with 19 points in their kitty, mathematically, still have an outside chance of taking the league honours if underdogs Imphal Rangers shock Orissa Steelers in the last match on January 22.
The match began on a fast note with Chennai attacking immediately after the back-pass and Adam Sinclair, with a darting run down the flank, earned a penalty-corner within 17 seconds.
They sustained the pressure for a few more minutes, forcing a second penalty-corner in the fifth minute but Dazzlers` defender Yoginder Gullia brought off a goalline save.
After initial hiccups, the Dazzlers, who defended stubbornly, attacked with verve and dominated the rest of the first quarter, with their forwards Ravinder, Raju and Ajitpal Singh creating havoc in the rival zone, but unable to beat the Veerans goalkeeper, who effected at least three brilliant saves.
Early in the second quarter, Veerans snatched the lead. In the 22 nd minute, Vikram Kanth initiated a move in midfield and it culminated on the left flank with Jalwinder Singh sending a stinging cross into the goalmouth. Breaking free from defender Amolak Singh, the livewire Raja lunged and stretched his stick to smartly deflect the ball home from near the post. (1-0)
However, before the end of the quarter Dazzlers struck back scoring the equalizer in the 30th minute. Following a move on the left flank, Ajitpal Singh gave a short pass to Ravinder, who in turn relayed the ball to Raju, on his left. With goalkeeper Sreejesh rushing out, Raju scooped into the net to restore parity. (1-1)
Thereafter, buoyed by the goal, Dazzlers applied sustained pressure on the rival citadel but were done in by stubborn goalkeeping by junior India player Sreejesh, who made two stunning saves. He blocked a fierce Mandeep shot and recovered well to tip over a reverse flick by Ravinder who took the rebound.
Chennai shot into the lead once again in the 39th minute and it turned out to be the match-winner.
Adam Sinclair set the stage with a short through pass to Jalwinder Singh on the right flank and Jalwinder dodged past a defender and cut into the circle. He continued his solo run, sidestepping one more defender and finally took stopper back Amolak Singh in his stride with a beautiful body feint and from handshaking distance found the narrow space between the goalkeeper and the post.
Delhi Dazzlers have only three points but two more matches to go with Imphal Rangers and Lucknow Nawabs.