England's U21 Men at the Sultan of Johor Cup, Malaysia

A World Cup warm-up event, The Sultan of Johor Cup is a tournament between six U21 men's teams, taking place over one week between 22 and 28 September.

England are up against India, Pakistan, Argentina, South Korea and Malaysia - who they recently faced in the NOW: Pensions Nations Cup in Wakefield. All are vying for the top spot and the cup at the end of the tournament, and we'll be putting up a match report here after each of England's games. For a quick visit you can see all of the week's results at a glance here.


22 September 2013, Match 1 - England v India - 1-2

Sam French challenges for the ball

England's first match was closely fought against India, holding out for a win but unfortunately going down 1-2 by the time the match was over. A late-minute goal scored in the 66th minute by Samuel French looked to be getting England back on track, but they were unable to keep that momentum to score again in the last four minutes.

Full match report

 

 


23 September 2013, Match 2 - England v Pakistan - 2-6

Luke Taylor celebrates scoringAlthough England started well, taking the lead in the first five minutes with a superb run and strike from James Gall and following it up ten minutes later with a penalty corner from Luke Taylor. Pakistan weren't to be kept down though, scoring three before the second half and following up with another three after the break, finishing the match 6-2 to Pakistan. 

Speaking after the match, England coach Jon Bleby said, "Although we had nine penalty corners but scored one, we are thankful that we created the nine and that augurs well from our attacking satistics."

"I am not perturbed by the defeat, as it is a learning mission and I believe we will gain a lot from here."

Full match report


25 September 2013, Match 3 - England v Malaysia - 1-3

England's Rob Farrington challenges for the ball with Malaysia's Azwar Abdul RahmanOn Tuesday England faced their recent rivals from the NOW: Pensions Nations Cup, Malaysia. The game was decided entirely by penalty corners, as both sides were awarded several although Malaysia were able to capitalise on their opportunities the most. Three goals down by the 43rd minute, England were able to get on the score sheet 16 minutes later courtesy of an Andy Bull penalty corner, but with no more goals to follow the match ended 1-3 to the home team.

After the match, England coach Jon Bleby said, "We're keeping up the faith. We're playing well end to end but just not converting into scoring opportunities. I was happy that for periods in the game we dominated them, but we made some poor decisions in and around the circle which we have to improve on - a valuable lesson in learning to cope with the hot and humid conditions and a noisy local crowd!"

Full match report


26 September 2013, Match 4 - England v Argentina - 0-3

England v Argentina U21 MenAfter a close first half, where England kept Argentina pinned down in their own half, Argentina took the lead one minute before the break and then dominated the second half. Although England battled hard right to the final whistle they found themselves struggling with the local conditions, with temperatures regularly reaching 30 degrees and above, and ran the match out 3-0 to Argentina.

Coach Jon Bleby: 'I was impressed with their effort and commitment, and I think it's important to learn how to play against these teams in this environment. We have to work on our game, to be able to perform at the highest level when we are physically and mentally drained - the team will have to recuperate well to be ready for Korea.'

Full match report


28 September 2013, Match 5 - England v Korea - 4-3

England's Brendan Creed injects the ballWhile England may have appeared on the back foot for the first half, finding themselves three goals down at the break, they gave their all in the second half to the shock of the Korean side and the crowd. Just over 10 minutes into the second half England began their streak courtesy of Ross Gilham-Jones, followed by goals from Luke Taylor and Joe Sharp, and rounded off by Arjan Drayton-Chana to finish 4-3 and earning England their first win of the tournament.

After the game, Jon Bleby said "The team showed great resilience and fight to come back as they did - a great lesson in how high-tempo, high-quality hockey allowed us to get back in the game. I'd love for the players to repeat the same tomorrow and later on in our preparations for the Junior World Cup".


29 September 2013, Match 6 - England v Korea - 0-6

England's Rob Farrington U21 MenIn their final game playing for 5th/6th placement, England and Korea faced each other again on Sunday. This time around Korea weren't going to let up after their first three goals in the first half, continuing to hammer at the English defence to score another three goals before the final whistle, leaving England down 6-0 in 6th place at the end of the tournament.

Jon Bleby, England U21 coach, was optimistic for future events after the game. "Again we had 10 corners to their three, and with many circle penetrations this demonstrated our frailties in those aspects. There's been so much learnt from this experience, but we have to improve on those areas. We also have to stop turning the ball over, because at this level of hockey you get punished very badly if you do. However, this has been an excellent experience for the squad and it's exposed our players to the challenges that lie ahead"