Sultans beat Maratha Warriors on way to semis

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Chandigarh, Jan 2 (UNI) Hyderabad Sultans snatched the third semi-final berth after prevailing over Maratha Warriors by a solitary goal scored by John Ekka in the 14th minute in the fourth edition of the Premier Hockey League at the floodlit Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here tonight.

By garnering three full points from this do-or-die encounter, Hyderabad Sultans joined Chandigarh Dynamos and Bangalore Hi-Fliers, 14 points each, in the last four stage with 11 points. Dynamos are leading the table on the basis of their better goal difference of plus four. Hi-Fliers have plus three. Maratha Warriors finished their league progrramme with seven points from two outright wins, three defeats and one loss in extra time.

On the final day of the league phase tomorrow, defending champions Orissa Steelers and runners-up Sher-e-Jalandhar will play to determine the fourth semi-finalists. In case Orissa Steelers win in the regulation or even in extra time for sivler goal or shootouts, Orissa will be through.

Bottom-placed Chennai Veerans, with a solitary point from six matches, have already made their exit. Marathas and Shers may also miss the bus. From five matches Shers have secured five points. A win against Steelers tomorrow will lead to a two-day tie between Steelers and Shers who are far behind in the goal difference.

Steelers have plus three and Shers minus three.

Samir Baxla and Diwakar Ram thwarted numerous raids of the Warriors. At the other end, Dutch import Oscar ter Weeme remained alert in the Hyderabad. He stood as rock as Maratha Warriors failed to get past Oscar while executing their three penalty corners.

Hyderabad Sultans forged ahead in the 14th minute as they earned a free hit just outside the circle when the ball hit Warriors' Dhananjay Mahadik's leg. Sultans' skipper Sardar Singh gave pass to his brother Didar Singh who took a good shot. Warriors' custodian Adrian D'Souza took the shot on his pads but an alert Johnson Ekka slotted home from close.

Thereafter, Maratha Warriors dominated the proceedings with more ball possession. However, Samir Baxla and Diwakar Ram stood solid to thwart all their moves.

Maratha Warriors forced three penalty corners. Warriors Dutch import Loijen Melchior's three powerful flicks were saved by his Dutch counterpart goalkeeper Oscar ter Weeme who was declared man of the match.

Standings after January 2 Team P W L ET-W ET-L GF GA GD Pts Chandigarh Dynamos 6 4 1 1 0 11 7 4 14 Bangalore Hi-Fliers 6 4 1 1 0 13 10 3 14 Orissa Steelers 5 2 1 0 2 10 7 3 8 Hyderabad Sultans 6 3 2 1 0 11 7 4 11 Maratha Warriors 6 2 3 0 1 9 8 1 7 Sher-e-Jallandhar 5 1 3 1 0 5 8 -3 5 Chennai Veerans 6 0 5 0 1 9 21 -12 1 Note : In extra-time Winners and runners share 2 and 1 points respectively. Goals in tie-breaker are not included in GF and GA.

Under : P - Played W - Won L - Lost ET-W Win in extra-time ET-L Lost in Extra-time GF - Goals For GA - Goals Against GD - Goal Difference Pts - Points.

UNI XC-VKJ JS2135

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