Gold Coast (Australia), 14 April 2018: England avenged their 3-4 loss to India in the Round Robin stage as they beat Indian Men’s Hockey Team 2-1 in the Bronze Medal match here at the XXI Commonwealth Games on Saturday. It was Sam Ward (7’, 43’) who scored in England’s win while Varun Kumar (27’) was the lone goal scorer for India.
Though India had good ball possession in the initially minutes of the first quarter, England were far more dominating with intense attack, making spaces in the striking circle. First it was the experienced Barry Middleton who took a potential shot on goal in the 4th minute but was slightly off the mark. An Indian infringement gave away the first PC of the match. Though Sam Ward’s attempt was blocked away by India’s first rusher Amit Rohidas, in his second attempt Sam Ward kept it low as he successfully found the right corner of the post taking a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute. A diving PR Sreejesh could do little to stop the fiercely-struck ball.
With good man-to-man marking by England, making successful forays into the striking circle for the Indian forwards was hard to come by. After several attempts, India’s first breakthrough, however, came in the 26th minute when Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay worked in tandem to win the team’s only PC of the match. A well-thought through variation between Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar fetched India a much-needed equalizer.
Scores levelled at 1-1, the third quarter was closely fought. While India began on an attacking note with Lalit taking a shot on goal in the 31st minute, Mandeep couldn’t find the right deflection to score. Though India’s attack picked up steam, defensive errors on their part gave away two crucial PCs in the 39th and 42nd minute. While, Sam Ward’s attempt was brilliantly saved by Sreejesh, England relied on their No.1 drag-flicker yet again in the 43ndminute to take the strike. This time, though first rusher Rohidas successful blocked the drag-flick, but on rebound Ward used a strong back hand shot to once again find the right corner of the post that helped England regain the lead.
Down by a goal, India desperately looked for opportunities to score but England’s defence was relentless, not wanting to repeat what happened in their previous tie when India scored in the last two minutes of the match. Forward Akashdeep Singh took an ambitious shot on goal but missed the mark in the 45th minute. Seconds later, skipper Manpreet attempted a shot but couldn’t muster a goal. England, meanwhile, won two PCs in the 50thand 54th minute but on both occasions different variations couldn’t help in stretching their lead by two goals. A video referral by England was upheld in the dying minutes of the match that denied India a PC while their defence stuck together to keep the lead and win the match.