Christmas came early for title chasing Khalsa-A on Dec 9.
When SCCC-A and defending league champions Hong Kong Football Club-A ended their Hong Kong Hockey Association Premier League match in an exciting 3-all draw at King’s Park, Khalsa were able to cement themselves at the top of the standings.
Khalsa players and fans alike were rooting for their team as they watched proceedings from the sideline in anticipation for the game to end in a deadlock. They shouted out the remaining seconds on the game clock after Khalsa had earlier finished their Premier match, 7-1 winners over Kowloon Cricket Club A at the same venue.
The draw allowed Khalsa to hold top spot after sharing that position with HKFC last week and sees them open up a 2-point lead on 24 points in the standings, with HKFC dropping to second place, while SSSC-A remain third (on 20-points).
Owen Hughes, HKFC skipper, blamed inconsistency in their game while praising their opponents on theirs.
“SSSC are a good side this year. They played some good hockey, but it was a physical game,” Hughes said, feeling they could have done more.
“We didn’t play as well as we have done in the last couple of weeks. We lost a bit of structure and they defended well,” he added.
One interesting aspect of their game was the speed goals came especially in the second period as the lead swung either way, with Hughes glad they had escaped dropping more points as the game ended in a stalemate.
“It’s great we did not concede at the very end and then we got our goals straight back, but we should have pushed for the winner. It’s a point gained [in the standings] as we all wanted to win obviously,” he said.
The Premier League now takes a back seat with the holiday break coming into play, with the league resuming in January.
“We will have to win every game after Christmas and it doesn’t really change too much,” said Hughes, who reflected on how they won the league title last season in similar fashion.
‘It’s a good result for them [Khalsa], although it keeps us a little bit further behind them. For us it doesn’t really change anything; we still have to beat SSSC and Khalsa and Punjab, and everyone else in the second-half of the season,” he said.
“We did it last season. We lost two games in the early half of the season and then went on to win every game, and we will have to do the same thing again and win all our [remaining] nine games,” he said.
Hughes said that while the pressure was now on them, he felt they would have to concentrate on coming back strongly after the break, starting off with their opening clash set for Jan 6 against Kowloon Cricket Club A.
“We start pretty early in the year and we have to be ready to go, and it’s [against KCC] and it’s the first game after Christmas break,” he said.
Two goals from Julian Lewis and one from Jojo Wolff helped Club, while SSSC A had Rinku Sharma with two goals and Gurdeep Singh with one to thank for keeping their title hopes alive.
SSSC convenor Johnny Johal said his players were not overawed by the occasion and hopes they continue improving in the hunt for the club’s first Premiership crown as he thanked Sharma and Singh strikes for securing their solitary point.
“The players played up to their standard. [Overall] it was a good game,” said Johal, who said they were still missing the services of key players, with Satwinder Singh still recovering from a hamstring injury as he sat out the game.
In other action played over the weekend, Hong Kong Football Club-B emerged 2-1 victors over Valley, with two first-half penalty corner conversions inspiring them; while bottom of the table Elite-A look to be heading for another wooden spoon at season-end as they were given a comprehensive lesson in basic hockey, ending the day in a 16-2 drubbing by Punjab-A.
Shaheen A, who are rebuilding their squad for the future, were left downcast when they were outplayed by another team looking towards the future as Pakistan A edged them 5-4.
Eddie So is a photo journalist with over 20 years experience based in Hong Kong.
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