Last weekend’s mixed fortunes for the top clubs in the Hong Kong Hockey Association’s Premier League has thrown the championship title chase wide open with four weeks of matches remaining in the season.
Sunday (Feb 3) saw Khalsa-A lose to PunjabA in a thrilling encounter; HKFC-A had a hard fought game against the up-and-coming Shaheen-A; and SSSC-A narrowly won against KCC-A. Meanwhile, Pak-A dominated HKFC-B and Valley-A just overcame Elite-A.
This leaves the standings table a little tighter with only five points between the top four teams – Khalsa lead Club-A and Punjab-A by four points, while SSSC-A are a further point back.
Punjab vs Khalsa
As anticipated, this was the star match of the day, a thrilling encounter between two sharp, skilful teams.
A wonderful spectacle for the good sized crowd to appreciate, there was always danger for league leaders Khalsa in this enthralling encounter.
In the early stages Khalsa moved ahead with a penalty corner conversion by Ahmed Ewis with a trademark drag flick after just three minutes. Khalsa added another towards the end of the first half to make the score 2-0 at half time – and it looked like business as usual.
Punjab-A’s first goal was not until 12 minutes into the second half from a hard strike from the edge of the circle by Mandeep Singh, they added another just two minutes later to make the game all square at 2-2. The winner came with six minutes left on the clock with a fine shot high into the net. Although Khalsa pressed they could not retrieve the match.
There were huge celebrations by the Punjab team and supporters to win such an important match. Final score 3-2 to Punjab.
Shaheen vs HKFC
Based on earlier form one would have expected HKFC-A to have had a fairly comfortable match against Shaheen-A. But this was not the case, the combination of youth and experience in the Shaheen team combined well. The young players in particular were fast, tenacious markers who showed composure and skill in defence and attack. They disrupted Club’s normal effective pattern game by being quicker to the ball and with tight and persistent marking.
Shaheen scored from a penalty corner with five minutes left in the first-half and were one goal up at half time. The second half was featured by many stoppages, several yellow cards and some unsavoury incidents.
Club-A converted two goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half and went on to score again with 15 minutes left on the clock, but Shaheen fought back and made it 2-3 with two minutes of the match remaining. The match became rather rough and bad tempered in the second half and not a nice game to watch. However, Club-A came away 3-2 winners.
The Pak-A match against HKFC-B was one-way traffic for most of the match, with Pak-A scoring at regular intervals.
HKFC-B pulled one goal back mid-way through the first half, but the score at half time was 5-1 to Pak-A.
Pakistan added another two goals in the first six minutes of the second half, but it was then that Pak-A lost their shape and HKFC-B cashed in with three goals in five minutes. Pak-A soon regrouped and continued the onslaught. The final result was 12-4 to Pak-A.
In the early match at King’s Park SSSC-A beat KCC-A 4-3 to keep them well up with the leaders in the standings table.
The match between Valley-A and Elite-A played at the Valley ground finished 3-2 to Valley. This is another good result for Elite-A who also seem to be improving as the season progresses.
There are no men’s matches next week and only one the following week (Valley-A play Pak-A on Sunday Feb 17) due to Chinese New Year. The next date for a full set of fixtures is Sunday Feb 24.
The top three clubs, HKFC-A, KCC-A and Valley-A all won and consolidated their positions.
HKFC-A beat their B side 8-0; Valley won against Shaheen-A 3-4 away at King’s Park; and KCC-A beat Recreio-A 3-0 in their match played at Happy Valley.
Women’s fixture dates are a bit irregular over the next few week’s due to Chinese New Year. Valley play KCC-A at Happy Valley tonight starting at 8.30 pm, there are then two matches on Saturday Feb 16 and one match on Monday Feb 18.
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