England got off to a great start in the International Super Series Hockey 9’s with a victory over India at the Perth Hockey Stadium. India had initially gone one goal up early on, but over the shortened period of 40 minutes England were the more dominant side coming back to win 2-1. Hampstead and Westminster’s Dan Fox pulled the first goal back to draw level and Loughborough Students’ David Condon made sure of the three points. The win puts them second behind Australia, who had earlier seen off Pakistan 4-2.
The game saw Beeston’s Adam Dixon take up the captaincy as HGC’s (NED) Barry Middleton watched from the sidelines following a slight calf strain sustained during a league match last weekend.
England looked to have come out the blocks quicker than India, demonstrating their strength on the ball and grasping the tactical differences in the game well. However it was India, against the run of play, who found the target first. In the 4th minute Chandi picked up the ball in the circle and fired home from 12 yards out with pin point accuracy into the corner past Beeston goalkeeper George Pinner. The larger goals, which stand one metre wider than a normal hockey goal, left Pinner with little chance of saving.
Moments later the Beeston keeper was called on again, but this time he saved well in a one on one with India’s Dharamvir Singh to keep England in the game.
The new look England side maintained their intensity throughout the first half and in the thirteenth minute they were rewarded. Olympic star Dan Fox was able to take advantage of the Hockey 9s rule of taking the ball above the shoulder and as it popped up off India’s goalkeeper he was there to tap in from close range to make it 1-1 and restore parity. The scores remained the same for the next seven minute before the sides went in for half time.
England dominated much of the second half and it wasn’t long before they found themselves ahead. An excellent move down the left hand side of the pitch and very good advantage played by the umpires following a foul on Racing Club de Bruxelles’ Nick Catlin, saw the move end with Loughborough Students’ David Condon slapping the ball under the advancing keeper from 7 yards out. It was no more than England deserved for their tenacity and ability to keep possession for periods of the game.
Cannock’s Patrick Smith replaced Pinner in the second half to make his first appearance in a senior England shirt and he was called on early as he made a good save diving to his right to keep the ball out. As the game closed in England legs began to look tired but they battled hard to stay ahead and take the victory.
Speaking after the game, England Team Manager Andy Halliday said, “We deserved the win today. The game is played at such a high intensity; we completed 61 substitutions in only 40 minutes of play. A win is a great boost for this inexperienced squad, however I am sure we will have a tougher test against Pakistan tomorrow.”
Speaking after the game, goal scorer Dan Fox said, “We’re really pleased with how the game went. We kept hold of the ball well, created plenty of chances and worked very hard to maintain our lead in the final stages. It feels like everyone [all the teams] is still finding their feet in this new style of play and it’s really interesting to see the different approaches to the game from each side.”
In other match of the day, hosts Kookaburras defeated Pakistan 4-2, which included a brace of goals from Jamie Dwyer, a goal from Daniel Beale and Liam De Young for the hosts, while Muhammad Rizwan and Haseem Abdul Khan scored for Asian giants Pakistan.
ENGLAND 2-1 (HT:1-1) INDIA
England Goalscorers: Dan Fox 13 (F), David Condon 29 (F)
India Goalscorer: Gurvinder Singh Chandi 4 (F)