A goal in each half gave England a draw in the third of three Test Matches against Pakistan at Cannock Hockey Club in a game which saw few chances for either side. It was another tempestuous encounter with four yellow cards being shown. Simon Mantell won his 50th cap and Reading’s Iain Mackay netted his first goal for England.
For the first time in the series, England opened the scoring in the 14th minute to take the lead following a well-taken reverse stick hit from the top of the circle by Mackay.
Pakistan threatened their equalizer just two minutes later when Syed Abbas Haider and Waseem Ahmed combined to supply Akhtar Ali, but he was driven wide by goalkeeper James Fair and his reverse stick hit crashed into the left post.
A couple of Pakistan penalty corners came and went with no outcome before Ashley Jackson went on a maizy run, driving into a crowded circle but his shot got lost in the congestion.
Just before the stroke of half-time, England could have doubled their lead after a nice pass across the face of goal from Dan Fox just eluded a waiting James Tindall and so the score remained 1-0 at the break.
In the 44th minute, a diving Jackson could not get the touch needed on a ball across the face of goal and a minute later, Pakistan were level. A nice move saw Muhammad Waqas feed the ball across the top of the circle to Abbas Haider who launched a fierce shot just to the right of Fair.
England were then let off the hook when a poor pass from Richard Mantell was intercepted by Abbas Haider who supplied Abdul Hasseem Khan, but the move came to nothing when enough England players found their way back to avert the threat.
An Abbas Haider penalty corner was saved by a diving Fair in the 49th minute and just after, Mackay did well to win the ball in midfield and launch a counter-attack which involved Simon Mantell and eventually ended in England’s first penalty corner of the match, but Jackson’s drag-flick pounded into the post to the ooohs and aaahs of the crowd.
England’s second penalty corner was awarded four minutes later, but Daly’s attempt from the top of the circle found a defender’s stick and went well over the bar. Amidst some controversy and against the cry of the Pakistan players, a further penalty corner was awarded and again it was Daly with the shot, but this time, he found the ‘keeper’s pads.
In the dying seconds of the match, James Fair came out well to deny Muhammad Irfan and so the score remained 1-1.
Head Coach Jason Lee said “Ironically, although it was our best result, I think it was our poorest play out of all three matches. We’ve trained very hard this week and I think our tiredness showed out there, but the only games that matter to us this summer will be at the Europeans [in August].
“Over the course of the three matches, I think we’ve done a great job at sticking at it and our technical and tactical skills have seen some improvement.”
Reading’s Iain Mackay said that he was “really pleased with his first England goal, although I’m disappointed that we didn’t win.” Of his excellent finish he commented “I’m not renowned for by back-hand shots, so it’s nice to score in that way.”
England are next in action against the European Champions The Netherlands at Bisham Abbey on Sunday 19 July before they take on India in another three-match series, this time at the University of Birmingham.
England – Pakistan 1-1 (1-0)
Goal England: Iain Mackay 14 (F)
Goal Pakistan: Syed Abbas Haider 45 (F)
Source: England Hockey
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