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England conquer Canada to qualify for World Cup

PUBLISHED: 07:46 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 07:46 23 June 2017

England's men celebrate their win over Canada (pic: Christopher Lee/Drew Gibson Photography)

England's men celebrate their win over Canada (pic: Christopher Lee/Drew Gibson Photography)

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England 4 Canada 2

England’s men secured World Cup 2018 qualification in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to beat Canada a tthe Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre last night.

Goals from Barry Middleton, Mark Gleghorne, David Goodfield and Sam Ward were enough to ensure they made it through to the final four at the Hero Hockey World League semi-final tournament, where they will face the Netherlands on Saturday.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing and an upset looked to be on the cards when Canada found themselves two goals ahead after just 12 minutes courtesy of strikes from John Smythe and Gordon Johnston.

Having conceded just seven goals in the group stages, Canada then made England work hard for their chances, but eventually the continuous pressure told as Bobby Crutchley’s side pulled ahead to earn their fourth victory of the tournament.

Middleton rose above David Carter to get the faintest of touches on a deflected Ward pass and turn it into the goal, which was upheld after video review.

And with the support of another lively home crowd spurring them on England pushed for the equaliser and it duly arrived in the 23rd minute as Gleghorne cutely deflected Mikey Hoare’s wicked cross past Carter.

The hosts had chances to go ahead before half-time, but Carter did well to keep out a Chris Griffiths strike as well as a penalty corner with just one second remaining to ensure the sides went into the break level.

England then went straight back o nto the attack in the second half as Carter was called into action once again after just 15 seconds, using his legs to keep out a stinging drive from Middleton.

Carter then produced another good save to keep out Ward, but as the pressure continued to mount, it seemed only a matter of time before England would score again.

They did in the 38th minute through Goodfield as he joined play on the left and got in front of a Canadian defender to divert Phil Roper’s cross into the goal to make it 3-2.

Ward was then denied twice more as Iain Smythe did well to charge down a penalty corner, before a diving Carter saved another effort four minutes from time.

He did eventually get his eight goal of the tournament in the 57th minute, though, producing a fantastic reverse stick shot to score from the narrowest of angles and wrap up victory for his side.

Middleton said: “We knew we’d have to work for it. There’s no free rides in world hockey, Canada are a good side and tough to play against.

“We made it a little bit hard for ourselves at the start and they took their chances. But we’ve got a lot of good young forwards. They’re going to be around for a while!

“You need goals from open play, as well as a good corner battery, and we’ve got that.”

England: George Pinner, David Ames, Henry Weir, Ian Sloan, Michael Hoare, Mark Gleghorne, Phil Roper, Barry Middleton, Brendan Creed, David Goodfield, Liam Sanford, Ollie Willars, Harry Martin, Sam Ward, Adam Dixon, David Condon, Christopher Griffiths. Unused sub: Harry Gibson (GK).

*Korea beat scotland 6-3 in the first match of the day to claim ninth place, with Kenny Bain (2) and Tim Atkins on target for the Blue Sticks.

Argentina beat Pakistain 3-1 in their quarter-final and will meet Malaysia, who sprang a surprise 3-2 win over India.

The Netherlands ran out comfortable 7-0 winners over China in the third quarter-final of the day.

Saturday schedule – 9.30am Canada v China (5/8 play off); 11.45am Pakistan v India (5/8 play off); 2pm Argentina v Malaysia (semi-final); 4.15pm England vs Netherlands (semi-final).

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