Roper strikes late to secure 3-3 draw against Malaysia
England 3 (1)
Ward (24′, PC), Griffiths (34′, FG), Roper (57′, PC)
Malaysia 3 (2)
Rahim (3′, PC), Saari (9′, PC), Tajuddin (54′, FG)
Phil Roper’s finish three minutes from full-time secured a 3-3 draw against Malaysia in England’s last Four Nations match as their preparations continue for the upcoming EuroHockey Championship in less than a fortnight’s time.
It was the second occasion in the tournament the team have struck late in a match to secure a draw with Mark Gleghorne pulling England level in their first match against Ireland.
There were several changes made to the team that were defeated last time out by Spain, but England started this game slowly and struggled to contain the attacking impetus from Malaysia.
The opposition profited from their early momentum and were two goals up within ten minutes, both times finding success through penalty corners.
England replied with one of their own before half-time, Sam Ward notching his third goal in just two games after bagging a brace against Spain on Friday, as the forward swept the ball in with a well-executed penalty corner routine.
Parity was restored just after the interval as Chris Griffiths got on the scoresheet with the team looking much improved from the opening minutes of the game.
Though England had battled their way back into the match, they were dealt another challenge to face as Malaysia found the back of the net with little over five minutes remaining.
Pushing forward in attack, England found an equaliser with just three minutes remaining as Phil Roper converted from a penalty corner to ensure the team wouldn’t finish the tournament with defeat.
Head Coach Danny Kerry commented after the match: “A poor start meant we conceded two goals whilst playing into the hands of Malaysia. We took control of the game in the second-half and the Malaysia ‘keeper played well.
“We experimented with some scenarios including playing with a keeper off for long periods and then had to play with a player down for 10. The lads did well to play themselves back into game under the hot conditions. Lots has been learnt towards selection for the Euros and building on our game.”
England’s EuroHockey Championship campaign begins on Saturday 17 August against Wales at 10:15am BST before ties against Belgium (5pm BST, Sunday 18 August) and Spain (12:30pm BST, Tuesday 20 August) in the group stages with the team targeting gold at the competition to seal qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
England Starting XI: Pinner, Willars, Ames, Jackson, Griffiths, Sloan, Hoare, Ward, Roper, Dixon, Condon
England Subs (Used): Gibson, Weir, Martin, Gleghorne, Sorsby, Calnan, Wallace
England Subs (Not used): Waller, Ansell, Gall