On the face of it Delhi Waveriders have had a decent outing. Their 1-1 draw with the UP Wizards on Wednesday maintained their impressive home record — they have been unbeaten for the seventh time in nine games played at the Dhyanchand Stadium — and the two points they earned from the result took them to the top of the HIL league on 19 points.
However Delhi skipper Sardar Singh wasn’t a particularly happy individual at the end of the game. “This was a game that we should have won,” he said. Delhi had taken the early lead through Yuvraj Walmiki and dominated early play and even though UP had surged in the second half of the match, had held on until the equaliser by SK Uthappa with eight minutes to go.
Sardar’s reaction was more disappointment than a fair assessment of the game. Both teams had their chances although Wizards had the more clear cut opportunities.
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So far in the HIL, Waveriders have shown an inclination to attack constantly from the first whistle but they chose a more cautious approach in Wednesday’s encounter. “We knew that Wizards would be patient and would keep the ball with them and so we tried to show patience ourselves,” said Sardar after the game.
While Waveriders had better possession in the midfield, there were few circle penetrations and no shots on target as Wizards’ keeper George Bazely wasn’t called into play once.
Yuvraj Walmiki would go on to have an average game but he would put Waveriders on the scoreboard. The hard work was done by Simon Child on the right flank as he broke past a couple of defenders then passed to Walmiki who had been left unmarked in the front of the goal. Wizards had an opportunity to equalise soon after through a PC.
However the fact that their regular drag flicker VR Raghunath was sitting in the timeout zone after earning a green card meant that Luke Doerner took the flick. Doerner tried for a variation but ended up holding on to the ball for too long and gave it away.
Wizards and Raghunath had the chance to make amends in the third quarter through another PC in the 47th minute but Waveriders keeper Stockmann got a sliver of leg to deflect the ball to safety. As time ticked by, Waveriders slowly reverted to all out defence and were helped by the fact that Wizards’ forwards weren’t able to finish their moves. Their midfield built around Sardar Singh was expected to dominate but failed to exert itself.
NEEDED: BETTER MAN MARKING
“We could have been better was in our man to man marking in the midfield,” said Sardar who was seen constantly exhorting his line to stay with the opposition players assigned to them. The mistakes eventually caught up and in the 62nd minute Wizards’ midfielder SK Uthappa got a ball which had been stolen from inside the Waveriders half line. To his credit, Uthappa, at the top of the circle turned and blitzed a forehand stroke into the board.
The goal would earn Wizards a couple of points as well but it left coach Roelant Oltmans with some areas to think about as well.
“Uthappa had a good game, but that is expected because he is one of India’s better midfielders. He has scored in this game as well as the last game but while that is good for the team, we need our strikers to be scoring goals for us as well,” he said.