Wales Men, seeded seventh at the EuroHockey Championships II in Glasgow based on their World Ranking of 32, have been promoted to the top tier of the Championships for 2019 after coming out on top 4-3 over France in a semi-final thriller on Friday afternoon.
Wales took the lead in the 13th minute, former Surbiton player Rupert Shipperley deflecting the ball past Arthur Thieffry in the French goal.
France were level ten minutes later thanks to Gaspard Baumgarten, but James Carson’s run into the French 23 and finish from the right of the circle three minutes into the third quarter restored the Welsh lead at 2-1.
Surbiton’s Gareth Furlong had found the French penalty corner defence tough to penetrate, but finally succeeded with eight minutes to play, seemingly giving Wales the upper hand with a 3-1 lead.
However, with four minutes to play, and France having utilised a kicking back, they were rewarded when Victor Charlet converted a penalty corner to reduce the Welsh advantage to 3-2.
With two minutes remaining, Luke Hawker converted a penalty corner against a defence without a goalkeeper and it seemed that Wales were finally on course for the EuroHockey top flight.
But not only did Guillaume Deront once more reduce the lead to 4-3, but France forced a succession of penalty corners before with 21 seconds remaining, and amid French forward protests, Wales were finally able to force the ball out of their own half and to safety with France not having enough time to find an equaliser.
The final hooter sounded to celebrate Wales winning a second successive promotion, having beaten Portugal 4-0 in the final of EuroHockey Championships III in Lisbon in 2015.
Furlong and Surbiton’s Lewis Prosser, who wore the captain’s armband were both in the Welsh starting line-up.
Wales will play either hosts Scotland or Russia in Saturday’s final at 4.30 pm.
More information about the EuroHockey II Championships tournament can be found in the Match Centre section of the FIH website here