England eke out hard-fought win

England eke out hard-fought win

Australia overwhelm Belgium 3-1

As the rain pou­r­ed down, England men ground out a 2-0 win over Malaysia in the hockey World Cup at the Kyocera stadium here on Thursday.

Malaysia can thank their goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam for keeping the scorline so close, whereas England will look back on the number of wasted opportunities with some concern. 

World No 4 England opened their scoring in the fourth minute of the game through a goal from Mark Gleghorne, but despite having far greater possession for a large part of the game, Barry Middleton and his men could not take further advantage until the 66th minute when Ashley Jackson put the game out of reach. England now have seven points from three games in Group A and stayed in contention for a semifinal berth. 

"It should not have come to that," said a clearly disappointed Jackson. "We should have put the game away long before that."

Gleghorne's goal came when he was found unmarked in the circle with only the keeper standing between him and his second goal of the World Cup. His clinical finish was in marked contrast to the inept finishing of his fellow strikers, with Tom Carson in particular finding himself in good positions time and again, but unable to get the ball in the back of the net. 

Malaysia were industrious, without achieving any meaningful result. Their quick, nimble play meant they were able to twist and turn through the England defence, but all too often the sheer size of the England men was enough to knock the Malaysian players off the ball and overturn possession. For the first 20 minutes of the game Malaysia worked hard to overturn the England lead. Tengku Ahmed and Fitri Saari in particular were busy in the midfield; it was simply a case that the England defence stood very strong and the Speedy Tigers were unable to breach the final line of defence. 

It was a penalty corner strike from Ashley Jackson that finally put the game out of Malaysia's reach. Despite a hampering shoulder injury, the midfielder was able to find a way past Subramaniam.

Thursday’s results: Men: England: 2 (Mark Gleghorne 4th, Ashley Jackson 67th) bt Malaysia: 0

Australia: 3 ( Chris Ciriello 7th, Jacob Whetton 9th, Eddie Ockenden 36th) bt Belgium: 1 (Sebastian Dockier 46th).

Women: Australia: 3 (Anna Flanagan 16th, Jodie Kenny 38th, 54th) bt Belgium: 2 (Stephanle De Groof 35th, Jill Boon 42nd). 

Korea: 1 (Jonguen Kim 32nd, ) drew with Japan: 1 (Shihori Oikawa 37th).