ENGLAND BEAT IRELAND IN PHYSICAL CLASH AT EUROS
By Colin Pike
England beat Ireland 2-1 in their first match in relegation Pool C to join Scotland on four points with one match to play at the EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp.
England will face Scotland on Saturday, when a draw would ensure survival for both teams, but no quarter is likely to be given between the historic rivals, so Ireland and Wales will still be hopeful of avoiding relegation in spite of traliing by three points with negative goal differences.
Zach Wallace fired England ahead in the eleventh minute, Ashley Jackson attacking down the right before finding Sam Ward in the circle, Ward’s cross from the right pulled back for Wallace to score with a shot in off the left post.
A minute later, England forced a penalty corner, but although Ward’s drag-flick was saved, Jackson sent the ball into the circle from the left, Phil Roper getting a deft touch to double England’s lead.
Ireland fought back in the second quarter, Michael Robson slipping the ball past England goalkeeper, George Pinner in the 21st minute.
With tension rising the game became more physical but there were no further goals.
The tension led to Conor Harte being sent to the sin-bin for the last three minutes for a push and shortly afterwards, Ireland elected to play with ten outfield players as they sought what could have been a vital equaliser.
With England trying to slow down the clock, Brendan Creed was unlucky when he played an aerial ball split seconds after the umpire gave Ireland possession for time wasting. The aerial ball was judged to be the equivalent of hitting the ball away giving Ireland a penalty corner.
Fortunately England held out for the win and go into the match with Scotland in second place trailing their traditional rivals on goal difference.
Creed and James Gall were both in the England starting lineup, Tom Sorsby came on as a fifth minute substitute with Wallace following in the ninth minute. Harry Gibson rested with Pinner playing the whole game in goal.