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England’s men edge Wales in a thrilling and physical Commonwealth Games contest

0 1


England 4

Ward (2 PC); Bandurak (40 PC, 56 FG); Roper (53 FG)

Wales 2

Prosser (17 PC); Carson (52 PC)

Two late goals from Nick Bandurak and Phil Roper helped England to a 4-2 win over Wales in a tense and at times frenetic affair at Birmingham 2022.

It was a ferocious contest between two sets of players who know each other well, with four cards shown to each team but, crucially, three of Wales’ cards were yellow which gave England a numerical advantage throughout the second half when the game was in the balance. 

England had earlier taken the lead through Sam Ward but were pegged back by Lewis Prosser. Bandurak then scored to put England back in front before James Carson equalised with time running out. But Roper, and then Bandurak again, scored late to give England the points and consolidate their position at the top of Pool B.

England: Payne (GK), Sorsby, Creed, Albery, Waller, Goodfield, Calnan, Wallace (c), Griffiths, Ward, Roper.

Subs: Mazarelo, Rushmere, Sloan, Ansell, Condon, Bandurak, Smith. 

Match report

Wales endured a lightning fast start in their first game against Canada, but it was England who came quicker out the blocks here.

Having not scored against Ghana, it was only a matter of time before Sam Ward, top-scorer in Gold Coast four years ago, netted in these Games.

He put England in front after just 74 seconds with a low drag flick between the keeper and post man after Will Calnan earned England the first penalty corner of the game, weaving his way down the right flank before a Welsh foot stopped his route to goal.

England kept the pressure on and pressed Wales relentlessly in the opening quarter. Zach Wallace was at the heart of that defensive effort and he came close to doubling England’s lead only to be denied via a last-ditch intervention by Wales’ Dale Hutchinson.

The first interval of the game seemed to breathe new life into Wales and just two minutes after the break they levelled with their first penalty corner through Lewis Prosser after the midfielder converted Stephen Kelly’s reverse stick strike from close-range.

But it was England who looked more threatening before the break and they came close to regaining their lead on two occasions. First, Nick Bandurak was denied from a short corner before Ward, at full stretch, tipped a David Condon strike over the bar under pressure from Kelly.

While England dominated the first half there was more of an end-to-end feel about the second, and though David Goodfield missed a good chance to extend England’s lead from a penalty corner, Rupert Shipperley squandered an even better opening to put Wales ahead for the first time. The Wales captain received the ball inside the circle after Owain Dolan-Grey dispossessed Brendan Creed, but could only fire over from close range.

That miss proved costly as the game quickly turned against Wales. England thought they had been awarded a penalty stroke for a foul on Phil Roper. But replays showed that Wales’ Hutchinson had made contact with the ball prior to Roper’s stick and the decision was overturned.

England were not to be denied however, and after two yellows in quick succession for Welsh pair Shipperley and Daniel Kyriakides, Bandurak made it 2-1 with a drag flick from a penalty corner.

Wales rode the pressure that came from their numerical disadvantage and levelled again through James Carson’s emphatic overhead smash with just eight minutes remaining. There was some controversy surrounding the award of the corner though, with Rhys Smith’s tackle seemingly a clean one.

But English frustration quickly turned to delight when Roper seized on a half chance, running free in the circle to steer past the advancing Tobias Reynolds-Cotter in the Wales goal.

Bandurak then sealed victory with a second field goal in quick succession just four minutes from time. Jack Waller darted in from the right wing and his aerial cross found Bandurak who converted for his fifth goal of the Games.

The win keeps England top of Pool B and they return to action on Monday against India. 

Feeling inspired to pick up a stick? Follow this link to find out what’s happening near you: https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/play/pickupastick 

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