Jalandhar: There was no end to Jaypee Punjab Warriors' woes as they suffered their third consecutive defeat, losing 1-2 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in a Hockey India League match here on Thursday. Looking for their first win, the Punjab's inability to convert four penalty corners and a stroke of bad luck cost the Jamie Dwyer-led side dearly at the Surjit Singh Stadium.
With both the teams locked at 1-1, an error from Warriors' goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann handed the lead to the UP in the 58th minute and the visitors ensured that there were no last-minute hiccups.
Stockmann, who was outstanding under the bar until then, inadvertently directed a hit of UP skipper VR Raghunath into his own goal. Earlier, Jeroen Hertzberger had put UP ahead in the 17th minute but Dwyer got his team back in the match with a 40th minute strike. "We seem to not find goals. Also we have conceded three own goals and that is an area of concern," said Dwyer, while referring to the second goal of UP.
But for that stroke of bad luck, Punjab did everything to change their fortunes. They showed the intent to push more bodies forward from the start and the approach looked like bearing fruit as Punjab registered regular circle penetration in the first quarter and even earned two penalty corners.
Sukhdev Singh got the best opportunity to put his team in the lead in the 15th minute but he could not give the right direction to a pin-point cross from his captain Dwyer. And the visitors made them pay for the lapse immediately.
Spanish midfielder David Alegre made a fine run inside the striking circle from the right and Joleh Hertzberger had to only tap in his cross to put UP in the lead. The hosts showed more intent after the half-time and were duly rewarded when Dwyer tapped in to equalise after Shivender Singh had surged in from the right. Both the teams then upped the ante to find the winner and it was finally a stroke of luck that handed five full points to UP.
Coach Barry Dancer said, "We missed too many opportunities today, else we would have had a better score line. The team has improved and is doing well and I am happy with our play. We should have a better game with Mumbai."
Speaking about the teams victory UP coach Oltmans said, "We are happy with our first game. Our goalkeeper being the best in Australia has performed really well here. We changed our strategy from the third quarter and attacked, which worked really well for us."
In their next home match, Punjab will take on UP again on January 22 and UP will take on Delhi Waveriders in Lucknow on January 19.