10 January 2014, New Delhi: In the last match of the first day of Hero Hockey World League Final, hosts India were outclassed by the fourth-ranked England. Riding on a brace by Adam Dixon, England took 3 points from their 1st match in Pool A.
The match marked a special occasion for Tim Whiteman and Affan Yousuf, who made their international debuts for England and India respectively.
The beginning of the match was characterised by India going on the offensive to the roar of the home crowd, but England quickly found their footing – the chances on goal then came thick and fast from both sides. India were awarded the first three penalty corners of the game, but they were unable to find the target as England defended well.
In the 28th minute England was awarded a penalty corner. The ball came out to Dan Fox at the top of the circle and it looked to be Carson taking the shot, but a cleverly worked move created the space for the ball to be slipped to Dixon who was waiting to fire it home. India pushed for a late equaliser and there were a few tense moments as they pressed the English circle, but the visitors kept their 1-0 lead going into the break.
England started the second half well and within 10 minutes Dixon was back on the score sheet for his second. Once again it came from a penalty corner, this time courtesy of some lightning reactions from the injector Iain Lewers who moved the ball out of danger to find an unmarked Dixon who pulled the ball across his body and accurately dispatched his shot home to make it 2-0.
Late in the game a penalty corner was given to India and it looked like they had pulled a goal back, but after a video referral it was determined that the ball had never left the circle. The last ten minutes saw more chances for England, including a last-minute penalty corner, but a strong Indian defence stopped them from increasing their lead and it ended 2-0.
Speaking on the loss India Coach Terry Walsh said “first half was a close game where we had corners but couldn’t convert. We have to work on delivering the ball in the mid field. We are good at penalty corners but we were not upto the mark today. There were moments where we could have changed the game but did not work for us”.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “I’m pleased with the result tonight and think we deserved to take the three points. Neither side has had much match practice in the run-up to this tournament and I think that showed, but we certainly upped our performance in the second half. We were slightly inconsistent at times, but when we did string the passes together we looked threatening.”
Commenting on debutant Tim Whiteman’s performance, Crutchley added: “Tim played really well tonight and it’s great to see him playing at this level. We’ve always known he is a high quality player, both on the ball and with the decisions he makes and he showed all of that tonight. He’s struggled with injuries in recent years and I’m delighted to see him come through that and get his first cap.”