Australia 2 (1)
Mitton (FG, 1; PC, 50)
England 1 (0)
Sloan (FG, 37)
England’s men will battle for bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games after narrowly falling short against defending champions Australia.
On the occasion of Barry Middleton’s 413th international cap – which sees him move to second in the all-time list – Trent Mitton caught England unawares after giving his side the lead just 26 seconds into the game.
The same player then won the game for his side ten minutes from time, benefitting from a large slice of luck as his penalty corner deflected off Middleton’s knee and over George Pinner.
Ian Sloan had equalised for England earlier in the second half but – despite two late yellow cards for Australia – England couldn’t quite find the second leveller and will face India to contest third place.
Roared on by a home crowd, Australia got off to the perfect start as they caught England in a whirlwind, with Mitton smashing the ball through Pinner after being neatly found by Daniel Beale.
That lead almost doubled in the eighth minute as the Kookaburras intercepted a pass but Pinner raced off his line to charge down Dylan Wotherspoon, who could only put his shot into the ‘keeper’s pads before it rolled wide.
England grew into the game afterwards as it became much more physical, with Flynn Ogilvie needing treatment after landing on his face while Sam Ward yellow carded, although he almost immediately hit back on his return only for his deflection on a Liam Ansell past to just trickle the wrong side of the post.
Harry Gibson then pulled off three superb saves to ensure Australia only took a one goal lead into half-time before Pinner yet again showed a great turn of pace to get to the ball before a charging Tom Craig in the 35th minute.
That seemed to inspire his team-mates and two minutes later they were level as Ward shovelled the ball over Tyler Lovell’s stick for Sloan to tuck in after the Australian ‘keeper batted away a stinging corner flick from Mark Gleghorne.
Australia immediately looked to hit back but once again Pinner was not to be beaten, smothering two further efforts before England turned the screw again at the start of the final quarter, with David Goodfield flinging himself to try and get on the end of a Ward cross but falling just inches short.
Gleghorne then produced two heroic blocks to charge down successive Australian corners but England’s luck was to run out on the third as Mitton grabbed his sixth goal of the tournament with ten minutes to play.
And despite England reverting to a kicking back and both Beale and Craig seeing yellow, there was to be no way through for Bobby Crutchley’s side despite their best efforts.
They will now play India to reclaim their bronze medal from Glasgow at 10:00 BST on Saturday 14 April.
England Starting XI: Pinner (GK), Dixon, Weir, Sanford, Creed, Middleton, Gall, Sloan, Roper (C), Goodfield, Ward
Subs: Gibson (GK), Gleghorne, Willars, Martin, Condon, Ansell, Griffiths