England men bag Hockey World League bronze
PUBLISHED: 08:09 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:09 26 June 2017
England 4 Malaysia 1
England’s men came out on top against Malaysia for the second time in a week to clinch the bronze medal at the Hero Hockey World League semi-finals at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on Sunday.
Having previously won 7-3 in the group stages, England again ran out convincing winners, securing a 4-1 victory in front of a home crowd thanks to a brace from Hampstead & Westminster’s Harry Martin, plus goals for birthday boy David Ames and captain Phil Roper.
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 Martin, who was comfortably able to net his first goal of the tournament.
Minutes later the lead was doubled after Ames finished off a free-flowing attacking move as one-touch build--up play in midfield led to Barry Middleton laying the ball off perfectly for his team-mate 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, but 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 as 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 brother Fitri’s 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 the 4-1 victory and third place.
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: 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. Unused subs: Harry Gibson.
*Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE received the England Hockey Member of Honour award from patron Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex on Sunday.
The award is the highest accolade that can be bestowed by the governing body and is made in recognition of outstanding contribution to England Hockey, with Richardson-Walsh only the sixth recipient.
As the most capped and most decorated women’s player in the history of England and Great Britain Hockey, Richardson-Walsh will forever be remembered for her achievements in the 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 Olympic gold in Rio.
In total she played 375 times for England and GB, winning 19 major medals and scoring 49 goals.