England Men drew 2-2 with Australia in their final Pool B game in the Odisha Hockey World League Final tournament in Bhubaneswar after surviving a late barrage of penalty corners.
England made the perfect start, former Surbiton player Liam Ansell scoring in the fourth minute after receiving a cross from the left from current Surbiton player David Goodfield.
Australia threatened in the 13th minute, Jeremy Hayward having a penalty corner shot blocked, with England wisely using their video referral two minutes later to overturn a penalty corner award after a dangerous ball came off the Australian attacker’s stick.
Surbiton’s Harry Gibson replaced George Pinner in goal in the second and fourth quarters and saved Blake Govers’ drag-flick in the 26th minute.
Trailing 1-0 at half time, the Kookaburras turned the game around in the third quarter, beginning their comeback within three minutes of the restart. England lost their right to a video referral challenging the build up to Australia’s equaliser.
An aerial ball found Matthew Swann on the right to cross for Dylan Wotherspoon to finish at the right post. Three minutes later, Pinner made excellent saves and cleared with his stick while on the ground to prevent Australia taking the lead.
However with Australia dominating, it was only a matter of time before they scored. In the 41st minute, Blake Govers found the backboard from their third penalty corner to set them on the path to their first win of the tournament.
In the fourth quarter, England came close to levelling from their only penalty corner of the match, Goodfield shooting past the left post after Surbiton’s Luke Taylor’s drag-flick was blocked.
England’s equaliser came out of nothing, David Condon crossing from the right for Phil Roper to lift the ball over the Australian goalkeeper.
The scores were still level with 25 seconds remaining, but the Kookaburras forced three penalty corners in the remaining seconds and a final corner after the hooter, only to strike the left post and for Gibson to make a last vital save which earned a vital point in the race to decide England’s quarter-final opponents.
Surbiton’s Brendan Creed was in England’s starting line-up with Goodfield coming on in the fourth minute, Taylor and James Gall both coming on in the sixth minute and Gibson rotating with Pinner on a quarterly basis.
More information about the tournament can be found at the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report, including Barry Middleton’s landmark 400th international appearance, can be found