India struggle to beat Wales, face New Zealand in crossover
India huffed and puffed before beating lowly Wales 4-2 to finish second in the pool as England chalked out a dominating 4-0 win over Spain to directly qualify for the quarterfinals from Pool D of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here tonight.
India will now face New Zealand on 22nd January in a cross over match and the winner will make it to the knockout stage.
India had beaten Wales 4-I in the Commonwealth Games last August but tonight they made heavy weather of the victory before the vociferously partisan packed stadium.
Every advancing move by men in blue received an uproarious support but the strikers failed to convert the chances. Surprisingly, Wales did not wilt under the pressure and put up a very spirited fight. Their dogged defence frustrated the Indian further who tried everything to get the breakthrough which kept the eluding.
Indians attacked from the flanks but goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill stood between them and the goal. He kept his nerves under pressure and blocked Mandeep’s effort and then cleared Akshdeep’s attempt on the rebound.
It was only in the 21st minute that Indian got that elusive breakthrough when they earned their second penalty corner .This time Shamsher Singh scored off the rebound (1-0).
Two minutes into the game the home side increased the lead through Akashdeep who moved from the left and dogged past the defenders to score much to the joy of the crowd (2-0).
The celebrations lasted only for ten minutes as Wales stunned the Indians on and off the field by scoring two quick goals off penalty corner through Gareth Furlong and Jacob Draper in the 42nd and 44th minute (2-2)
However, Akashdeep lifted the spirits of the home scoring his second and team’s third goal in the 45th minute.(3-2) and just before the final hooter Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner to give respectability to the victory margin.(4-2).
Earlier, playing an allout attacking game, strong contender England outplayed Spain 4-0 to finish the pool D league with seven points (two wins and a draw).
For the winners, who led 2-0 at half time, the goal scorers were Phil Roper, David Condon, Nicholas Bandurak and Liam Ansell (one each).
The all-European fixture turned out to be an interesting contest with the Englishmen showing their aggressive intent from the very start.
Spain tried to match their rivals speed and belligerence but could not match it. The English attacks were intense and incisive and they first hit the Spanish armada in the tenth minute when they forced a penalty corner .Phil Roper made no mistake in sending the ball home (1-0).
Spain tried to penetrate into the rival defence but found the rival too sturdy for their liking. Whatever moves they made through the flanks were killed by the Englishmen outside their circle.
The Englishmen kept the pressure under which Spain defence wilted again in the 22nd minute when David Condon scored a superb goal leaving the goalkeeper stranded (2-0)
In the second session there was no letup by the English side though Spain tried to take the fight into the rival citadel.
The third quarter was shared by both the teams with the game confined to the outskirts of teams’ citadels.
Five minutes into the last quarter Nicholas Bandurak virtually sealed the match in his team’s favoure when he scored the third goal and a minute later Liam Ansell confirmed the victory when his powerful strike from inside the circle sounded the board.