It was another gritty performance from England as they dug deep to secure the victory and take the third place. Goals either side of half-time came from Tom Carson, who is fast making a name for himself in England’s attacking ranks, and the crucial winner came from captain Barry Middleton in the 54th minute.
The last time England had beaten Australia was back in 2010 in the same stadium in Delhi at the World Cup where the score was 3-2. Ashley Jackson and James Tindall (2) were on target that day.
In the earlier matches of the day Germany beat Argentina 2-1 to secure 7th place and Belgium secured 5th with a win against the hosts India. In the final match of the tournament the Netherlands handed out a 7-2 thrashing of New Zealand to claim gold.
Following the last match George Pinner was presented with the Hero Goalkeeper of Tournament award.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “I’m delighted with the result today and the tournament as a whole. Getting a bronze medal is really nice for this group as they continue to make the right strides and they are definitely hungry for more. The attitude of the players has really impressed me and I wanted to pick out Michael Hoare and Henry Weir, who I think given their relative inexperience have both had really good tournaments, making vital tackles in key moments.”
Talking about the game today, Crutchley added, “We had to take a bit of pressure from Australia, we didn’t play as well as I’d like us to at times which meant we spent a lot of the first half defending. However, we still managed to look dangerous when we had the ball and with an improved second half performance we took our chances better than they did.”
The story of the first half was one of misses from Australia after they dominated possession over the first 35 minutes. However, it was England, against the run of play, who struck first. A strong run from Tim Whiteman along the backline allowed him to find Middleton who used great awareness to pull the ball back off the line with his first touch to pick out Carson who made no mistake in firing the ball home to make it 1-0.
It took just three minutes for Australia to score the equaliser, Glenn Turner on target for the Kookaburras to pull the scores level at 1-1. Australia’s pressure was relentless in the closing moments of the first half, but they were unable to capitalise as England stood strong in defence.
The second half saw more pressure from Australia, who with ten penalty corners throughout the game would have been justified in thinking they would have taken the lead, but England’s defensive line with George Pinner, Iain Lewers, Dan Fox and Middleton on the line somehow managed to keep them at bay.
Against the run of play Nick Caltin fed a ball into Alistair Brogdon whose first touch carried the ball away from a committed Tyler Lovell in goal, but somehow his shot into an open goal came off the post. That miss seemed to spur England on and they started to keep the ball and build up their play and in the 54th minute they scored what proved to be the decisive goal. Jackson fed the ball to an unmarked Middleton in front of Lovell and with his back to goal and the deftest of touches he managed to slot the ball home to make it 2-1.
The final 16 minutes were played out at a relentless pace as Australia threw everything at England looking for the equaliser. They secured their tenth penalty corner in the final 30 seconds of the game and as the ball went goal bound it seemed that England would have to face another shoot-out. However, umpire Roel van Eert used his own video referral and much to England’s delight the goal was disallowed after the replays showed Knowles obstructing Lewers to help create the space for the ball to be fired home.
Hero Man of the Match Iain Lewers said after the game, “It’s huge step up from where we were nine months ago. We were disappointed after the semi-final defeat yesterday and we had to dig in deep today, but overall in the tournament I think we did ourselves justice coming away with the bronze.”
Adding his thoughts on England’s brilliant defensive work at this tournament, Lewers said: “It’s been hugely satisfying for myself and the lads in defence this week. It’s a huge cliché but defence starts from the front line and everyone in the team has given everything this week to help us get the good results.”
When asked about the coming year both for himself and the team Lewers added, “For myself I want to play a key part in this team and help other people to grow and develop. There’s plenty of time for us between now and the World Cup to continue to develop and build on what we’ve achieved here, as there is for all the other teams. It’ll be interesting to see where we have got to at the end of May when we head to The Hague for the World Cup.”
Australia Head Coach Charlesworth said “They’ve defended very well here and they’ve taken their chances. We had a lot of penalty corners today but the runner blocked them. That’s sometimes hard. We could have done some other things, we did.
“We had a bunch of chances, rebounds even; they made half a dozen saves on the line. That doesn’t usually happen. Our PC [penalty corner] taker is probably the leading goal scorer in the tournament. We need to get better at that. No question. I’d rather be making PCs than not making them though.”