England edged past New Zealand in a dramatic shoot out to claim Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre earlier today, while Australia outclassed India by 4-0 to win their 5th consecutive Gold at the games.
Simon Child gave New Zealand the lead with a classy finish in the 12th minute, while England saw both Iain Lewers and Ashley Jackson sin-binned in what was a heated opening period to the bronze medal match. England turned the game around in the space of three minutes when first Alastair Brogdon found the target from close range and then Jackson flicked home from a penalty corner to take a 2-1 lead, however Kiwi’s Andy Hayward equalised in the 33rd minute to bring the scores level going into the break.?
Jackson’s second penalty corner just after half time put England within sight of victory but New Zealand’s star man Child responded in the 59th minute with his second goal to force the match into a shoot-out.
New Zealand’s Inglis and Edwards both converted for New Zealand, but Blair Hilton and Simon Child failed to beat England keeper George Pinner. With Jackson, Nick Catlin and Barry Middleton all keeping their nerve the score was poised at 3-2 in England’s favour as Simon Mantell stepped up. His effort was judged to have been fouled by Devon Manchester, the Black Sticks’ keeper, which resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded. New Zealand appealed the decision, but unsuccessfully, and Jackson stepped up to fire home from the spot and give his side a brilliant 4-2 victory.
The bronze medal ends a run of fourth-placed finishes at the last Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games and the recent World Cup.
Bobby Crutchley, England’s Head Coach, said on the performance: “Finishing fourth is a horrible thing and I couldn’t be happier for the players that they’ve got something to show for all the hard work. It was a great advert for hockey and our guys have run their legs off for that result. The team has improved so much in the last couple of years and now we’ve got something tangible to show for it and that’s really exciting for the future.“
On Ashley Jackson, joint top goal scorer at the tournament: “Ashley is a superstar. I think he went ten years without missing a stroke but he’s missed a couple recently, so I was a bit more nervous than normal. All guys delivered under pressure in the shoot-out.“
Barry Middleton, England Captain, said on his team’s performance: “I’m not going to wipe the smile off my face for a little while. We wanted to be in the final but it doesn’t take anything away from leaving here with a Commonwealth medal. After the semi-final we said no-one in the room had a Commonwealth bronze medal, so we shouldn’t demean the bronze medal game. I was actually wrong because Bobby (Crutchley) has got one and now we’ve got one to match. It’s a big moment for me and also for the guys who are just starting. This sets you off on a path where you want to win more and go further. We’ve won a bronze now and we want to take a step forward. Hopefully this takes us on. We’re going to enjoy this now but then we need to remember what got us there, we must go further. This is a very good group of players and since London [Olympic Games] we’ve improved at every tournament we’ve played. These guys just want to get better every day. This will keep me playing for a long time because I believe in this group and I think we can go and win things.”
“We hung in there until the end but we just didn’t take enough chances. It was 50-50 – we had similar opportunities. It’s a real shame. It’s time to sit back and have a think about it all, look back on the game and improve from there,” said New Zealand captain Dean Couzins.
“We have a good group moving forward, we have a really strong group of guys and a strong culture in the team and I think Rio Olympics is going to be a really good opportunity, but it certainly would have been nice to have come away with a medal here,” said New Zealand’s Simon Child.