Dutch international Robbert Kemperman’s strike in the dying moments of the match helped Dabang Mumbai steal a 2-1 win over Jaypee Punjab Warriors in their Hockey India League (HIL) match on Saturday.
Warriors till then had almost played to a script similar to that of their previous match against Ranchi Rays— Tristan Clemons was resolute in the goal soaking up pressure and denying relentless efforts on the goal by Mumbai, while Mink Van der Weerden gave his side a 1-0 lead with a penalty corner conversation.
With the clock running down in the fourth quarter, it looked Punjab Warriors will once again scrape through but for Kemperman. With just 28 seconds left on the clock, Kemperman took control of a weak clearance by the Warriors to slot past Clemons and seal victory.
Thirsting for revenge
Warriors went into the match itching for revenge. Dabang Mumbai had humbled the defending champions 10-4 in the previous encounter. A 1-0 win against Ranchi Rays had given Warriors hope of carrying forward the momentum but it was Mumbai who came out victorious.
Skipper Florian Fuchs, who scored twice in an earlier encounter against Warriors, again led the charge. A solo run from almost the half-line almost resulted in a goal, but quick reaction from Warriors custodian Clemons denied the German.
Dabang Mumbai dominated the first quarter with Warriors failing to threaten the opponents’ goal even once. Affan Yousuf then caught the Warriors defence napping with a darting run, only to be denied by Clemons.
The second quarter was also similar with Dabang Mumbai once again dictating terms and Clemons standing between them and the goal. Yousuf was denied again when Clemons timed his dive perfectly. Towards the end of the second quarter, Jake Whetton came close in the only attempt on the Dabang goal by the Warriors in the first 30 minutes of play.
The first strike
Warriors took the lead against the run of play with Mink stepping up and slotting in into the top right corner, beyond the reach of Dabang custodian David Harte.
Mumbai were soon on level terms, albeit only for a few seconds. Nilakanta Sharma maintained his composure to slot home a cross but Warriors were quick to go for referral and their appeal was upheld as Gurjant Singh had obstructed Clemons.
Dabang Mumbai then pitched their tent in the rival half.
“We were creating chances but the goal proved elusive till perhaps the end of the match. Otherwise happy with the effort which showed that as a team we are ready to fight and not give up,” Mumbai coach Jason Stacy said.
Warriors next take on UP Wizards on February 13.