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Bangalore Hi-Fliers enter PHL semis
December 30, 2007 19:04 IST
Former champions Bangalore Hi-Fliers edged past Sher-e-Jallandhar 2-1 to become the first team to enter the semi-finals of the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Hi-Fliers completed their engagements in the league winning five of the six matches and currently top the table with 14 points.
Shers on the other hand remain on five points from as many matches. To make the last four stage they not only have to win their last match against holders Orissa Steelers but also hope for others to lose to make an outside entry.
After a barren first half, where both the teams had an equal share of exchanges Hi-Fliers drew the first blood converting the third and last of their penalty corners.
In the 47th minute the Bangalore team forced their second short corner but missed the chance with an indirect variation.
However, they earned one more short corner and this time drag flick specialist Len Aiyappa sent a low flick to the right of goalkeeper Salman Akbar in Shers' goal.
Thereafter, both the teams switched up gears and increased the pace of the game. Shers too showed more urgency in their moves but failed to penetrate into the circle.
Bangalore custodian Bharat Chetri made a good save thwarting Sarvanjit Singh in the 52nd minute and then blocked Shers' fourth and last set-piece drill in the 58th minute saving Kanwalpreet Singh's flick and then Aiyappa cleared the ball to safety.
But Shers tried desperately for the equaliser even as Bangalore midfielders fell back to assist the defence. Arjun Halappa played a good game in the midfield assisting in the front as an attacking midfielder and falling back to support the defence to cut the rival raids.
In the 67th minute, Bangalore increased the lead with a superb field goal.
Tushar Khandekar sent a ball from the right and Bangalore's Korean player You Hyo-sik set the ball for teammate Sebastian on the top of the circle and moved into the goalmouth.
Sebastian darted towards the left goal-line, dodging a couple of defenders, moved in on the goal-line and sent a brilliant minus pass into the goalmouth for a waiting Hyo-sik, who completed the formalities without any fuss.
Shers pulled one back in the 69th minute when Gurvinder Singh deflected home off a long diagonal cross into the circle from the left.
In the last minute, Jugraj Singh effected a fast counter attack passing the ball to Gurvinder Chandi in the circle from their own defence and created anxious moments in the Bangalore defence but they survived the few seconds to finish the engagements on a winning note.
Bangalore's Arjun Halappa was declared the man of the match.