England lost out to New Zealand in the Semi-Final of the Hero Hockey World League Final. After 70 minutes of hockey there was nothing to choose between the two sides as the match ended 3-3. There were England goals for Harry Martin, Mark Gleghorne and Ashley Jackson, but with three more in reply from New Zealand the match would be decided by a shoot-out.
After the first round of penalties the scores were once again tied at 3-3 with Ashley Jackson, Tom Carson and Barry Middleton on target. As it moved into sudden death Jackson, Carson and Nick Catlin all found the mark, but after failing at his first attempt Harry Martin once again saw his shot saved and Phil Burrows was New Zealand’s hero as he scored the deciding goal to send them through to the final.
England will now face Australia in the bronze medal play-off at 12:15 tomorrow after they lost 4-3 to the Netherlands in the other semi-final of the day.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “We’re gutted with the result. To lose that way in a shoot-out in the semi-final of a tournament is really hard to take, however we were a bit sloppy in our play across the 70 minutes which meant we couldn’t take the game away from New Zealand and that ultimately led to the shoot-out. We had more than enough opportunities, especially in the second half, but we just couldn’t get control of the game. All credit to New Zealand, they are quality side with some great talent and our 5-1 victory in the group stages didn’t really reflect the competitiveness of that game. They really came at us today and I wish them luck in the final tomorrow.”
“Overall I’m really pleased with the way we’ve played this tournament and a top four finish against the best sides in the world is a great achievement with this relatively new squad. The boys will regroup and we’ll do everything we can to come home with the bronze medal tomorrow.”
England Captain Barry Middleton added, “We’re very upset to lose like that when we had an opportunity to make the final, but we have to look forward and pick ourselves up for another big challenge against Australia tomorrow.”
The match started with both sides trying to push into their opposing circle and take an early lead. New Zealand looked the most threatening early on, as a series of penalty corners kept England in their own half, and in the 12th minute they opened the scoring with a reverse stick shot at the tightest of angles from Marcus Childs.
Not to be kept on the back foot for long England equalised to make it 1-1 in the 23rd minute. It was a welcome first goal of the tournament for Beeston’s Harry Martin who made a fearless dive towards the posts to deflect a pass from Mark Gleghorne over a sprawling Devon Manchester in the Black Sticks goal. After several other chances from both sides neither team could find the space to break away and the score remained level going into the break.
A change of ends saw a change of pace as the game opened up in the second-half. England had the edge on possession and in the 49th minute the provider of the first goal became the scorer of the second. After some fantastic advantage play from umpire Murray Grime, Gleghorne reacted quickly to a Middleton ball into the circle and fired home to give England the lead for the first time in the game. It was an advantage however that didn’t last long.
Ten minutes after Gleghorne had put England in front a penalty corner saw New Zealand’s Stephen Jenness react first to a rebound to score the equaliser and this was followed a minute later by a field goal for Hugo Inglis to turn the game on its head. With just six minutes to go a foul on Barry Middleton in the New Zealand circle led to a penalty stroke being awarded; Ashley Jackson stepped up and effortlessly slotted the ball past Manchester to draw the game back level at 3-3 and set the scene for a semi-final shoot-out.
Nick Catlin, Harry Martin, Ashley Jackson, Tom Carson and Barry Middleton stepped up to the 23 metre line to take England’s penalties and after the first five attempts there was once again nothing to pick between the two sides. England had missed their first two efforts through Catlin and Martin but Jackson, Carson and Middleton all delivered in style and with George Pinner in England’s goal thwarting two Kiwi chances the scores were tied at 3-3 which meant it was time for sudden death.
With a change to the England order Jackson stepped up and scored again, but this time Middleton’s effort was saved by Manchester and it needed Pinner to save from Blair Hilton, which he did to keep the scores level at 4-4. Next up Carson and Catlin both found the target as did their New Zealand counterparts, but at 6-6 a devastated Martin saw his shot saved and Pinner was unable to keep Phil Burrows out and New Zealand sealed a 7-6 victory.
England will play off for the bronze medal against Australia at 12:15 tomorrow. All matches are being streamed live at www.youtube.com/fihockey
In the afternoon session of the day Belgium needed a shoot-out to beat Argentina and set-up a 5th v 6th play-off against hosts India after their shock 5-4 victory against the world number one side Germany.