England’s first game of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup was against world number 10 side Spain. Alastair Brogdon gave England the lead inside six minutes as Bobby Crutchley’s side dominated the first half with a host of chances.
Spain came back at England in the second thirty-five minutes and Eduard Tubau pulled the crucial goal back to take a share of the spoils in the Pool A match. Iain Lewers did not play today after suffering a dead leg in last weekend’s game against Australia.
Wimbledon’s Alastair Brogdon put England in the driving seat after just six minutes with a fantastic shot in space from the top of the circle after Nick Catlin had played the ball through to find the Wimbledon forward.
A goal up, England looked confident and dominated play. Midway through the first half a great piece of set play from England saw both Barry Middleton and Adam Dixon fire shots towards Quico Cortes in Spain’s goal, but Cortes and a wide shot kept Spain within just one goal. England queued up the chances, Dixon, Mark Gleghorne and Catlin all came close to converting, but it remained 1-0 at half-time as the packed stadium basked in the evening sun.
With just two minutes gone in the second half Spain levelled the score through Eduard Tubau, who got the faintest of touches on a ball fired into the circle from long-range. George Pinner in England’s goal hardly reacted and a hit-out to England was initially given, but Spain referred and the replays confirmed the touch.
At 1-1 the game was poised for a big finish, but both sides showed signs of nervousness and a few mistakes started to creep into England’s game for the first time. Despite a handful of opportunities England were unable to capitalise and the game finished 1-1.
England men’s next game is against India on Monday at 1500 (BST). England’s women play tomorrow in their first game against the USA at 1200 (BST). All matches will be shown live on Sky Sports with expert analysis from a host of international stars including Kwan Browne and Chloe Rogers.
England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said “The game showed a lot of what we’re about. There was some really good hockey in there and we created plenty of chances. We played particularly well in the first half and then we lost some control in the second half and that’s when they put us under pressure, but overall we played very well.”
“We’re a bit frustrated not to win having created so many chances, but it’s a long tournament and they are a good team so one point is a decent start and we’ll move on and build on it for India on Monday.” he added.
England’s Captain Barry Middleton said after the match “We’ve waited a long time for this tournament and trained a lot at Bisham [Abbey NSC] for the opportunity to play here so we want to take our chance whilst we can to play some good hockey. That’s when we’re at our best, when we enjoy ourselves. I know I haven’t got too many tournaments left so I want to enjoy them whilst I can.”
“First half we played some really good hockey and deserved to be in the lead. In the second half they changed some things and made it harder for us and we made a few mistakes. I hope it was exciting to watch. It felt exciting to play in, which is what we want. We want to win but we want to go about it by playing good and exciting hockey. If they get a goal like they did it’s a shame but that’s the way it goes.”
“We want to create chances. We said to the guys at half time that as long as we create chances we don’t have to change anything. There’s no sense in getting frustrated when things don’t quite go to plan; that won’t get you anywhere. We want to keep doing the things we’re good at. Sometimes they go in and other days they don’t. That’s hockey for you.”