A pulsating 70 minutes of hockey in a breezy Rotterdam today saw free-flowing attacking hockey played between Ireland and India in the Rabobank World League (Men’s). The match between world number eleven side India and number fifteen side Ireland was drawn 4-4 to share the points. In other league match of Pool B, hosts Netherlands held New Zealand for 3-3 draw to share the honors from 3-1 down in 46th minute.
Ireland started brightly but India provided their usual silky close-knit skills to soak up any pressure. A diving reverse stick cross from Sunil forced David Harte into action in the 7th minute, and minutes later a diving Good sent the ball just wide on the back post from a Caruth cross. Good again came close with a fine reverse stick effort in the 12th minute, forcing the save from Parattu Raveendran. Cargo forced a further save from Raveendran but just as Ireland were finding their rhythm a crash ball in the 21th minute found Akashdeep whose first touch left him with space to fire an unstoppable shot past Harte.
Four minutes later the Green machine were back on level terms after some patient build up play around the back found Sothern in the circle, where he fooled his marker with a slick right to left drag and coolly slotted the ball past the oncoming keeper. Harte saved a Sandeep Singh drag flick in the 29th minute, which led to Ireland counter-attacking with pace, and they deservedly took the lead when a diving Gleghorne nipped in to finish on his reverse in front of goal. Half time Ireland 2 India 1.
India unsurprisingly came firing out of the blocks at the start of the second half, forcing Irish turnovers in their defensive 25. With five minutes gone they won their second corner of the game, and Rupinderpal stepped up from the back to fire a drag flick low to Harte’s left, with the post man left with no chance.
Two minutes later Ireland won a corner of their own, but a shot from the right from Caruth was deflected high and wide by the Indian defender. India continued with their onslaught of crash balls into the circle, and in the 47th minute went 3-2 up when Shivendra ghosted his marker and deflected a cross past Harte.
Al Sothern forced a great save from a drag flick in the 50th minute, and seconds later Manpreet was left in an acre of space on the left hand side but skewed the ball well wide. Harte came to the rescue in the 53rd minute racing out to block a first time effort from Nithin, and a good spell of Irish possession and patience led to Michael Watt earning the Green Machine their third corner of the game. This time Conor Harte stepped up to slot the ball home, again low to the keeper’s left. 3-3 with 13 to go.
With goals galore the pace of the game slowed slightly, but not for long as a quick break away phase involving Al Sothern found Timmy Cockram free on the left, who crossed to a diving McConnell, leaving the keeper with no chance. Without doubt the best goal of the game, Sothern and Cockram showing poise on the ball and McConnell having the grit and determination to provide height and a sublime finish.
Two minutes later however, the Irish conceded a soft corner when the ball was raised into an Indian forward. The flicking power of Rupinderpal again proved decisive, as he slotted home high to Harte’s left. A video referral followed as Gormley argued the ball was raised dangerously, but an inconclusive decision meant their complaints were in vain.
Two minutes from time another referral was called after it appeared Peter Caruth was tripped in the circle, but once again no clear decision was made, much to the grievances of the Irish players.
The game finished 4-4, and Ireland whilst will be disappointed not to have come away the three points, they can take many positives from some sterling performances against a team ranked four places above them.
Next up for the Green Machine are New Zealand on Saturday at 9.30am CEST, while India face hosts Netherlands at 4.30pm i.e. 8.00pm IST.
Result: Ireland 4 (Sothern, Gleghorne, Harte, McConnell) drew India 4 (Rupinderpal x2, Akashdeep, Shivendra)