There was almost a carnival atmosphere at the Valley Ground on Sunday (Feb 16) as leaders in the Hong Kong Hockey Association Premier Division Punjab-A and Khalsa-A both won their matches. Adding to the mood, the Valley-A team had returned to their home ground to watch after tying their game against HKFC-A.
Punjab-A and Khalsa-A are still heading the standings on 35 points each, while HKFC-A dropped to 3-points behind.
The final three rounds of fixtures feature mouth-watering clashes for the top three places.
This weekend: HKFC-A hosts Punjab-A; Valley-A play SSSC-A; and Shaheen-A play Khalsa-A.
In the penultimate round the following weekend: SSSC-A play HKFC-A; while Punjab-A play Khalsa-A.
The final week of matches sees: Khalsa-A play HKFC-A; and Punjab-A vs Valley-A.
SSSC vs Khalsa
Khalsa-A played superbly to overcome an SSSC-A team appearing to lack team spirit and full determination. SSSC defended well particularly in the early stages of the match, but lacked vision in trying to penetrate a well organised Khalsa defence, resorting to hard-hit long balls that often missed their target attackers.
Khalsa on the other hand were superb in all departments. Solid in defence, skilful and accurate in distributing the ball; while resourceful, fast and penetrating in attack. SSSC had their moments and scored to bring the game back to 2-1 after going two goals down. However, Khalsa tucked away two more goals – an Ahmed Ewis signature drag flick penalty corner; and the other from a superb strike by Inderpal Singh – to take the score to 4-1.
SSSC hit back by converting a dubious penalty stroke to keep them in touch at 4-2, but two goals towards the end of the match—one a defender deflection from a hard Ewis hit into the circle and the other by Ashad Mohammad—took Khalsa to a thoroughly deserved 6-2 final score.
Punjab vs Shaheen
Shaheen-A held Punjab-A fairly well in the first half to keep the score down to 2-nil, but Punjab were too strong—although the Ali brothers Asghar and Arif showed good skills and determination – and too good in defence to cause them any major problem.
Three more goals in the second half saw the division co-leader finish with a 5-nil score-line.
Valley vs HKFC
The match between Valley-A and HKFC-A was a very hard fought local derby, with both teams playing well-structured pattern hockey.
The match was all-square at 1-all at half time and the second half continued in similar vein.
Club were delighted to move ahead 2-1 in the final quarter of the match, but Valley forced a penalty corner in the final minutes that was well taken to level the match at 2-all.
There was disappointment for Club, who thought they had done enough to win the match, but this drawn result now puts them on the back-foot going into the final matches.
In the lower half of the table, Pak-A beat HKFC-B 4-2; SSSC-B won 4-2 against KCC-A; and KNS-A beat Elite-A 4-0. This latter result puts KNS-A one point ahead of HKFC-B in the lower half of the table.
The next matches take place on Sunday Feb 23 when HKFC-A meet Punjab-A and KCC-A play HKBC-B at HKFC; and Valley-A play SSSC-A, Shaheen-A play Khalsa-A, Pak-A play Elite and SSSC-B meet KNS all at HV1.