England are top of Pool A after they earned a hard-worked 2-1 victory over Olympic champions Germany in their second match at the Hero World League Final. In the second game New Zealand bounced back from yesterday's 6-1 loss leaving host nation India bottom of the group.
England started their game at a great pace, scoring the opening goal in the 4th minute when Tom Carson won possession in the circle. Germany’s goalkeeper Nico Jacobi was left with no chance as Carson turned and whipped in a shot.
Bobby Crutchley, England coach was pleased with his team's performance but warned that there were still many errors to be ironed out. "I am obviously pleased with the win, but our quality dropped when we came under pressure. We should have taken the chance to hurt them when they came at us, as they left spaces."
Despite England taking an early lead, the Olympic champions struck back thanks to Marko Miltkau (11’) stealing the ball from an England defender. England decided to use their video referral in this situation but the goal was confirmed meaning the English team lost their referral at an early stage.
Ashley Jackson (21’) brought the world-ranked number four back ahead when scoring his 50th goal in his England career. Jackson flicked home a penalty corner and will be happy that the ball was deflected highly into the net by Germany’s first runner Tobias Matania.
“I’m not happy with our performance in the first half. I missed the spirit. The second half was much better as we created many chances”, said German coach Markus Weise. Captain Oliver Korn added: “We need to check the video to see what went wrong.”
The crowd in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium saw England defending well throughout the second half although Germany were constantly pushing hard for an equaliser. Their best opportunity came from a penalty corner which hit the post.
Germany’s Christopher Wesley said: “Maybe we have suffered from yesterday’s 6-1 win over New Zealand. Today we missed 10 to 20 per cent of our performance.”
In the second match, both teams began the game having suffered defeats in the first round of Pool A matches, but it was New Zealand who emerged 3-1 winners.
New Zealand made it clear from the first whistle that they were determined to make up for the previous day's poor showing. The Pool A game was only seconds old when Shea McAleese (1') opened the Black Sticks account. His goal, scored through open play, steadied the team's nerves while the sheer physicality and steadiness of the New Zealand players seemed to rock India's confidence.
India were not without their chances in the first half, but their deft stick work was often let down in the final phase of the game. That said, they won two penalty corners in quick succession but Black Sticks goalkeeper, Devon Manchester, cleared the ball from the circle easily on both occasions.
The second half saw much of the same. India played some quick, inventive hockey, and Chandanda Thimmaiah was unlucky to see his shot fly over the cross bar, but it was New Zealand who again took their chance. A free hit found Stephen Jenness (41') unmarked in the circle and he duly slotted the ball home.
10 minutes later it was Jenness who scored again, and virtually ensuring victory for the Black Sticks over the host nation.
India did not stop playing however, and with just over two minutes left to play Mandeep Singh (68') seized on a loose ball and shot home to the delight of the crowd.
India's coach, Terry Walsh, spoke of his players' loss of confidence over the past two games: "The confidence levels are low and it has to be rebuilt. This environment makes a loss of self confidence even more difficult to deal with. This showed on the pitch. The players were slow, lethargic and made poor decisions. We have started to spiral, and it is my job to deal with that."
His counterpart Colin Batch said: "We are very pleased with the win after the disappointing game against Germany." In the next pool game, New Zealand face England. Batch added: "England are playing quite well at the moment so today's. We want to improve throughout the whole tournament."
India sit at the bottom of Pool A with their final pool match against Olympic champions Germany. New Zealand will face England.Follow the action on the FIH event site.
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