B D Narayankar
PUNE: Braving intermittent rains with a positive gameplan, Poona Police played a fascinating hockey with sheer pace and agility to trounce Vikram Pillay Academy (VPA) 1-0 in the finals of Priyadarshini Sports Centre (PSC) Nine-a-Side Hoceky Tournament here on Thursday.
The magical goal came from the stick of Mark Anthony who was waiting in the circle for the 60-yard hit from Umesh Pulgam in 34th minute of the match. It was an unforgettable goal. He flicked the ball to his left, twirled around and reverse-flicked the ball over goalkeeper Ganesh Palande’s head.
“You ask him and you will get one,” Poona Police captain Wajid Sheikh told Maharashtra Herald after the match with loads of cheer tinkling on his face. “Mark had been deadly this season and had given everything to the team. When he gets one, it is worth treasuring. And he has got us some good goals,” he said.
The sheer attacking tactics adopted by City Police from the beginning showed VPA defenders’ poor form. They gave too many opportunities for Poona Police to launch or set up an attack.
The winners had as many as five penalty corners in the first half, but could not coast past their rival goalkeeper Ganesh Palande once. Even VPA had one such opportunity, but that went abegging.
The game, however, was not as easy as it appeared to be from outside. Players had to work hard to control the ball on a soggy field. The tussle, therefore, appeared even.
Poona Police were worried after their first half strategy to play an attacking game did not fetch them goals. When they took the field in the second half, they focused on converting at least one penalty corner. Sooner they got one, but were unlucky as the ball ballooned over the bar after a neat deflection from VPA defender’s stick.
Amidst the maneuvers of Poona Police, Ganesh Palande brought a couple of exciting saves, sending spectators into rupture. The one he saved Prakash Sapkal’s shot was special.
Launching a counter-attack in the next minute, VPA midfielder set up the attack for Sachin Pal in the circle who rolled it on to Cyril Bernard who scooped the ball over the bar in a rush of blood.
Meanwhile, Metro Sports earned third position in the tournament beating rivals Railway Police 1-0. Sunny Dete scored the only goal of the match in the first half.
RESULTS: Finals: Poona Police 1 (Mark Anthony) bt VPA 0; Third Place: Metro Sports 1 (Sunny Dete) bt Railway Police 0