Azlan Shah Cup
Ireland 1 (Dale)
England 4 (Middleton x2, Ward x2)
There weren’t many clear-cut chances in the opening half as both teams looked happy at times to slow the game down due to the heat and humidity. Paul Gleghorne and Jonny Bell controlled the back line for Ireland, and tried to create opportunities with pinpoint passes as the English press rarely ventured over the half way line in the opening exchanges.
In the 8th minute it looked as if Mark Gleghorne had given England the lead from a penalty corner drag flick but an umpire referral found the ball hadn’t left the circle and the goal was disallowed. Jamie Carr made a smart reaction save as Ian Sloan sent a pacey ball into a crowded circle looking to break the deadlock. The English goal came from experienced Barry Middleton as he slid in at the back post to deflect Phil Roper’s PC shot past Carr.
Eugene Magee won the Green Machine’s only corner of the half but another goal disallowed as Shane O’Donoghue’s shot was deemed to have hit the first runner high. England accumulated 6 PC’s in the opening half but otherwise the encounter was honours even with Ireland holding 48% of possession and neither goal keeper troubled much as the teams sat mainly in between the two 25’s trying to create space.
It was the second half when the game started to come to life and the goals began to flow as the intensity increased. Sam Ward got his first goal in the 37th minute diving in front of goal to get a vital touch on Roper’s pass.
Carr made several fine saves throughout the second half as Gleghorne and Liam Ansell both attempted shots from close range. Julian Dale won Ireland’s second PC and then converted with a powerful shot past George Pinner as the momentum appeared to swing back in Ireland’s favour.
Kirk Shimmins very nearly levelled the game with superb 3D skills to get himself into the circle, only for his shot to spin past the far post. The game slipped away from the Green Machine in the final 9 minutes as Ward got his second, again in front of goal for the close-range shot.
Jonny Bell stepped on as kicking back as Ireland chased a goal but a counter attack led by Liam Sanford saw the ball fall to Middleton who passed into an empty goal to make it 4-1 in the final minute.
The Green Machine are back in action again tomorrow against world number 1 side Australia at 8:05am Irish time.
Starting: J Carr, J Bell (Captain), C Cargo, A Sothern, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Robson, P Gleghorne, L Cole, S Loughrey
Subs: M Bell, S O’Connor, K Shimmins, J McKee, J Dale, M Ingram, S Cole
Ireland Schedule (all times listed are local):
March 3rd at 20:30 Ireland 1 vs 4 Malaysia
March 4th at 18:00 Ireland 3 vs 5 Argentina
March 6th 16:00 Ireland1 vs 4 England
March 7th 16:05 Ireland vs Australia
March 9th 18:05 Ireland vs India
March 10th Final Placing Matches
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