England win Investec London Cup in shoot-out thriller

men win ilc 450

England needed a shoot-out in the Investec London Cup Final to overcome an Ireland side looking to spoil the party at the new home of England Hockey.

England 2 (1)
Alastair Brogdon 6 (FG)
David Condon 49 (FG)

Ireland 2 (0)
Eugene Magee 36 (FG)
Michael Darling 69 (FG)

England win 4-2 on shoot-out

This was the latest of several recent encounters between the two sides, and the first major final being held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was also a replay of the final pool game from yesterday, where England ran out convincing 4-1 victors.

It looked as though England were to put on a similarly impressive display, as early on Adam Dixon attacked the Ireland baseline before pushing the ball across goal for Alastair Brogdon to tuck away and give England an early lead.

This was the cue for the home team to start playing with some verve. In particular, Ashley Jackson and Captain Barry Middleton were showing some magical skills that drew cheers from the enthusiastic crowd. With the midfield duo pulling the strings, England were able to fashion chances through Brogdon, Simon Mantell and Mark Gleghorne. For all England's possession though, Ireland kept their opponents at bay, thanks in no small part to fine defensive performances from Conor Harte and John Jackson.

The 1-0 halftime score was a slender lead, and Ireland punished the home side early in the second half, when a blocked cross fell perfectly for Eugene Magee to smash past George Pinner and bring Ireland level.

In the 49th minute England took their advantage back when a wide attack found David Condon in space and he was able to fire a shot through a crowded circle past David Harte in the Ireland goal. However, the game was far from over and, as England's defence failed to clear an awkward ball, Michael Darling capitalised and scored the equaliser to draw the scores level on 2-2 at full time.

It would take a shoot-out to settle the result. England's experience came to the fore as George Pinner kept out Michael Watt then Magee, as opposed to Jackson, Middleton, Harry Martin and Mantell who were all on target, giving a relieved England crowd the result they came to see.

George Pinner said of playing in goal in a shootout: “It’s fun being in goal in a shootout, you can't lose really because the pressure’s on the other players to score, so I enjoy it.”

Investec London Cup Player of the Tournament and top goal-scorer Ashley Jackson said after the win: “It’s great to be on a new home ground, which hopefully we’ll be able to make into a fortress in the coming years. Thanks to all the spectators too, the support was fantastic and we hope to see everyone many more times here. It’s important to play games ahead of big tournaments and as the week went we couldn’t have asked for anything better.”