A DRAMATIC comeback against Russia helped England Men end day one on a high at the EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Vienna, Austria, on Friday.
Trailing three-nil, England battled back to salvage a 3-3 draw in their second match of the day. Having narrowly lost out 7-6 to the Netherlands earlier in the day, it leaves Pool A finely balanced with all four teams still able to progress to the semi finals.
“I’m very pleased with two strong performances from a group of players with no experience at this level,” said Head Coach Andy Halliday. “Had our corner routine been more effective against Holland we would probably have been unbeaten at the end of the first day.
“The character and resilience shown by the group to come back from three-nil down against a team as talented as Russia, is indicative of the strong spirit and character in this squad.
“We have given ourselves a fighting chance of World Cup qualification.”
England began well against the Netherlands and were 2-0 ahead with Sam Ward and Darren Cheesman scoring, but the Netherlands battled back to be level at 3-3 at half time, Ben Arnold scoring England’s third goal just before the break.
The Dutch hit back with two unanswered goals to lead 5-3, and although Ward, Simon Egerton and David Beckett added to England’s tally, they narrowly lost out.
Against Russia, England were three-nil down at the break before intelligent and selective use of five outfield players helped them break down the Russian defence and claw their way back with goals from Chris Griffiths (24min), David Beckett (32min) and Sam Ward (40min).
And Ward had shown his value in defence too, having saved a Russian shot off the line while England had no goalkeeper on the pitch.
England are back in action in the first game on Saturday morning (8am GMT) against pool A leaders Germany.
* Photos by www.hockeyimages.co.uk