Kemperman’s strike seals crucial win for Mumbai over Punjab in HIL

Chandigarh, Feb 11 (IANS) Robert Kemperman’s field goal at the death helped Dabang Mumbai pip defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors 2-1 to take a giant step towards qualifying for the semi-finals of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.

Dutchman Kemperman’s strike around 25 seconds from the final hooter ursurped the 37th-minute lead given to Punjab by drag-flicker Mink van der Weerden’s as Mumbai posted a deserved win.

For the major part of the match, goalkeeper Tristian Clemons put another stellar show as he kept Mumbai at bay.

Australian Clemons was tested early, with a solo effort from captain Florian Fuchs bringing out two saves from the goalkeeper in the fourth minute.

Then, Affan Yousuf grabbed a ball at the left and rushed past two defenders before driving the ball at the goal, only to be parried away by a diving Clemons.

Clemons was at it again as he brought out his stick to deny a deflection from Fuchs at the right post.

Mumbai created two more chances till the end of the first 30 minutes as Punjab struggled for gathering steam and rhythm.

Their first genuine chance came in the 30th minute when Jake Whetton slapped one out of the left post.

After the change of ends, Punjab even though didn’t improve their attacking game but they did well to contain the circle penetrations of Mumbai.

Matt Gohdes earned the first penalty corner of the game for Punjab and Dutch set-piece powerhouse van der Weerden fired a penalty corner to the roof, beating goalkeeper David Harte on the right to give Punjab the lead. The 28-year-old has been turning out to be brilliant replacement as he replaced injured Australian Christopher Ciriello within a week prior to the start of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Mumbai seemed to have taken the lead in the next minute via Nilankanta Sharma but the goal was disallowed because Gurjant Singh obstructed goalkeeper Clemons.

Clemons and Punjab defence, led by veteran Australian Mark Knowles, ensured that the visitors continue to miss their chances.

In the dying moments, a desperate Mumbai made a final dash and Kemperman dodged his marker before sweeping the ball past Clemons on the left post to give Mumbai a 2-1 lead.

With this win, Jay Stacy-coached Mumbai took their points tally to 28 points from eight games, while Punjab remained in the fourth spot with 17 points from six games.

Kalinga Lancers are second with 22 points from eight games, while third-placed Ranchi Rays have 18 points from eight matches.

Delhi Waveriders and Uttar Pradesh Wizards occupy the fifth and sixth positions respectively.