Khalsa-A secured a narrow victory over top of the table rivals HKFC-A in front of a packed stand and great atmosphere on Sunday Jan 19, to head the first half standings in the Hong Kong Hockey Association Premier Division.
While this win takes Khalsa to top the standings, they are on equal points, but with a better goal difference than Punjab-A (who also won their round-11 match). This pushed HKFC-A from first place in the standings prior to the weekend into third and one point adrift of the tied leaders.
In another important match last weekend, SSSC-A won against KCC to keep them in the top half of the division—leaving the top six teams as: Khalsa-A, Punjab-A, HKFC-A, Valley-A, Shaheen-A and SSSC-A.
Second half season (super sixes) fixtures start on Sunday Feb 9, directly after the Chinese New Year break, when the aforementioned top six teams will play each other once to determine the final league champion placings.
Matches will also continue for the lower six teams in the division.
Khalsa-A vs HKFC-A
In the Khalsa-A vs Club-A match, Khalsa were quicker off the mark and were two goals to the good within the first 5 minutes of the start—Ishtiaq Ahmed scored the first, Harry Bal scored the second, making it a sombre beginning for Club.
Club really did start slowly and got punished severely in the process; however, they gathered themselves together and fought back valiantly to finish the first half on equal terms at 2-all.
A good strike from the left side of the circle brought Club’s first success with 9-minutes of the first half remaining and a second hard strike into the Khalsa-A circle 3-minutes from half time was deflected by a Khalsa player into their own goal bringing the score to 2-all.
In the second half, good chances were missed at both ends of the field. Agile goal-keeping stopped other attacks and the match remained at deadlock until late in the game.
Fifteen minutes from the whistle, Khalsa attacked from the right side of the field hitting a ball across the goal and Harry Bal deflected the ball into the HKFC-A’s net, putting Khalsa 3-2 into the lead. A good equalising chance at the other end escaped the stick of Jan Adams.
On the run of play Khalsa deserved the win, Harry Bal missed an even better deflection chance earlier in the match and Khalsa also netted what looked to be a good goal, but it was disallowed for ball-body contact.
Gurcharan Singh, Khalsa’s manager, explained his reaction to the Epoch Times straight after the game.
“They [HKFC-A] had the advantage of home ground, so to get a result here is really extraordinary for Khalsa and to get on the top spot now,” said Singh.
“The team will try to keep consistency in future games to get future good results.
“They played well today, it was a good game and everybody enjoyed the game.”
Simon Chapman, the HKFC coach, was naturally a little disappointed with the result and agreed that they had a very slow start to the game.
“It was a very slow start … terrible. But I don’t think we are too worried about the points at this stage,” said Chapman, “We are only one point behind the leader and there are five games still to play for the Championship.
“We made a few careless mistakes at the back and also did not take some of our chances up front, but coming back from 2-nil down to tie 2-all at half time showed the character of the team and that’s what we want to see.
“The third goal looked a fairly simple error. That comes from being a bit defence minded and once you get back on your heels, good teams like Khalsa will run around you as they are so quick,” he explained.
In the other matches, Punjab-A beat Elite-A 7-2; Valley-A drew with Shaheen-A 4-all; SSSC-A beat KCC 6-2; and KNS-A won their match against SSSC-B 3-1.
Next week’s matches
Premier hockey takes a two week break as the Hockey Sixes take centre stage next weekend and Chinese New Year is the week after.
In the Hong Kong Hockey Association Women’s Premier Division, Valley-A moved a point ahead of HKFC-A by winning their match against Dutch on Saturday Jan 18, while Club-A drew 1-all with Shaheen-A. KCC enhanced their position with a win over HKFC-B.
Valley-A are on 16 points; HKFC-A, 15; Shaheen-A, 13; KCC-A, 12; HKFC-B, 7; Dutch, 3; and Recreio-A (who did not play this week) are still waiting their first positive result.