England Men just came up short against hosts Australia in the second semi-final of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Friday.
The Kookaburras won 2-1 in spite of defending with nine men late in the fourth quarter after two players were shown yellow cards and England installing a kicking back to increase their outfield powerplay options.
England made the worst possible start, going behind after just 26 seconds, Trent Mitton finding the backboard to the delight of the home supporters, past starting goalkeeper George Pinner.
England’s attempts to fight back were stymied by Australia’s tactics to press, nullifying England’s aerial threat so successfully that England failed to make a single shot on goal from open play in the first half.
Australia counter attacked and in the second period, Surbiton’s Harry Gibson, who was in the English goal for both the second and fourth periods, denied Daniel Beale and then made a crucial save from the Kookaburras’ only penalty corner of the half with 41 seconds remaining, Jeremy Hayward failed to score.
Aaron Kleinschmidt also had time to force an open play save from Gibson with Mitton missing the target before the half time hooter sounded.
Tyler Lovell replaced Andrew Charter in the Australian goal at half time, saving Mark Gleghorne’s penalty corner shot in the 36th minute. However 18 seconds later, England were level, Australia failing to clear the ball from the circle with the ball finding its way for captain Ian Sloan to poke the ball home from short range at the far post.
Australia regained the lead in the 49th minute after a succession of three penalty corners. Gleghorne as lead runner defended twice, but it was third time lucky as Mitton’s shot was deflected into the roof of the net. England lost their right to a video referral challenging the goal award.
Lovell came to Australia’s rescue for a second time in the 53rd minute saving another penalty corner shot from former Surbiton player, Liam Ansell, whose shot from the rebound went whistling past the right post.
England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley then elected to take goalkeeper Gibson off and put Brendan Creed in as a kicking back as Australia had Beale in the sin-bin for a ten minute yellow card offence. With three minutes remaining, Tom Craig was to join him, leaving England with an advantage of eleven outfield players against the Kookaburras’ nine until the 59th minute.
In spite of England’s best efforts, and Creed sharing the kicking back duties with Ollie Willars, Australia held out to reach the final against New Zealand. The Black Sticks beat India 3-2 in the first semi-final. England will play India for the bronze medals on Saturday.
The Daily Schedule including links to information about individual matches can be found at the Commonwealth Games website