England came out on top against Malaysia for the second time in a week at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Finals. Having previously won 7-3 in the Pool stages, England again ran out convincing winners, securing a 4-1 victory in front of a home crowd. A brace for Harry Martin plus goals for birthday boy David Ames and captain Phil Roper rounded off a successful tournament for the new look England squad. The third place finish means England have qualified for the World League Finals that take place in India later this year.
England dominated possession and territory in the opening exchanges and broke the deadlock after just five minutes. Sam Ward’s low drag flick was initially saved by the pads of Kumar Subramiam, but the rebound fell straight to Harry Martin, who was comfortably able to net his first goal of the tournament. Minutes later the lead was doubled after David Ames finished off a free-flowing attacking team move. One touch build up play in the midfield led to Barry Middleton laying the ball off perfectly to the number 5 to smash into the bottom corner. Malaysia came closest to pulling a goal back two minutes before the first break but George Pinner was able to shepherd wide Tengku Tajuddin, who was one on one with the England keeper.
The game continued to ebb and flow with Ward and David Goodfield both missing chances to increase the home side’s lead. Azuan Hasan gave England a scare as he rattled the crossbar from a tight angle, having expertly manoeuvred his way along the baseline. However, yet again, it was the combination of Ward and Martin in a well worked penalty corner routine that secured an all important third goal for England. The Holcombe forward deliberately directed his drag flick onto the stick of a diving Martin, who deflected the ball into the roof of the net two minutes before half time.
Subramiam made two excellent saves in the third quarter to prevent England from putting the game completely out of sight. He stretched with his left kicker to tip the ball onto the post from Ian Sloan’s strike before standing tall to block Chris Griffiths reverse stick effort, after the striker had been superbly set up by David Condon.
In the 53rd minute Malaysia managed to break through the England defence as Faizal Saari deflected in on the spin his brother’s, Fitri Saari, crash ball into the circle. Bobby Crutchley’s side almost immediately restored their three goal lead from the re-start but a diving Subramiam denied Roper at the far post. It was Roper who had the last laugh though as his powerful shot squeezed through Subramiam in the 59th minute to seal a 4-1 victory and a third place finish for the home side.
Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “I’m really pleased with the step forward we’ve taken in a pressurised situation with World Cup and World League Finals qualification on the line. We achieved that, and that gives a really good opportunity to prepare for the next 18 months with lots of exciting tournaments ahead.
“There have been some fantastic learning experiences. On the whole they’ve developed well – don’t get me wrong there’s lots we can improve and be better at. To play in front of a home crowd, with new faces, I’m delighted with the way they’ve done.”
England XI: George Pinner, David Ames, Henry Weir, Ian Sloan, Michael Hoare, Mark Gleghorne, Phil Roper, Barry Middleton, Brendan Creed, David Goodfield, Liam Sanford, Ollie Willars, Harry Martin, Sam Ward, Adam Dixon, David Condon, Chris Griffiths
Sub (Unused): Harry Gibson
Kate Richardson-Walsh named England Hockey Member of Honour
England Hockey Patron Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex today presented the England Hockey Member of Honour award to Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE.
This award is the highest accolade that can be bestowed by the Governing Body and is made in recognition of outstanding contribution to England Hockey. Including Kate there are only six Members of Honour.
As the most capped and most decorated women’s player in the history of England and Great Britain Hockey, Kate will forever be remembered for her achievements in our sport.
As captain of England and Great Britain for over 13 years, in 2012 she led Great Britain to a bronze medal despite a broken jaw, then won European gold in London in 2015, followed by the most amazing moment in women’s sport in 2016, when almost 10 million people saw her team win gold in Rio.
In total she played 375 times for England and GB, winning 19 major medals and scoring 49 goals.
Her CV speaks for itself, and it is only right that she is recognised in this manner.