England victorious over Australia in Champions Trophy opener

Sam Ward celebrates with David Condon at the CT2014

Two goals from Sam Ward on his England debut and another from Alastair Brogdon helped England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley's side to a superb 3-1 win over Australia in their opening Champions Trophy clash. It was a solid team performance from England who were two goals up at the break and although Chris Ciriello pulled one back with six minutes still on the clock, Ward’s second just two minutes later made the game safe and handed England the perfect start to the tournament.

Australia 1 (0)
Chris Ciriello (54) PC

England 3 (2)
Alastair Brogdon (6) F
Sam Ward (27, 56,) F F

England made a fast start to the first quarter and on six minutes Wimbledon’s Alastair Brogdon robbed Jeremy Hayward just outside the Kookaburras’ circle, rounded the goalkeeper and fired home a lovely reverse stick shot to make it 1-0.

In the second quarter George Pinner was called upon to see off a couple of good attacks by Australia including gloving away a fierce reverse stick strike from Matt Gohdes. At the other end, Henry Weir swapped passes with Nick Catlin and drew a good save from Andrew Charter in the Kookaburras’ goal. Australia built some good pressure but were unable to capitalise on it and with three minutes left to half time England doubled their lead. Ollie Willars fired the ball into the danger area and although David Condon’s deflection came back off the post, Sam Ward slotted home the rebound to send England in 2-0 up at the break; it was the Beeston striker’s first goal for England on his debut and gave Bobby Crutchley’s side some much needed breathing space.

Australia continued to press in the third quarter but England defended well to keep them at bay and even created chances of their own. Ashley Jackson played Barry Middleton in on the right and his slapped strike was saved by substitute goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. The Australian goalkeeper was called upon to keep out a penalty corner from Jackson and then at the other end, Pinner did well to see off another chance from the Kookaburras.

The final quarter followed much the same pattern as England sat deep and tried to keep Australia at arm’s length. Jacob Whetton went close with a deflection but England stood firm. With six minutes remaining Australia hit back. Chris Ciriello found the bottom corner from a penalty corner to set up a nervy finish for England. The nerves didn’t last long however, as a moment of high drama followed. Australia forced a penalty corner with four minutes left. The ball cannoned back off the post before Barry Middleton cleared off the line brilliantly. England swept forward and Ward spun and slotted home with a lovely finish to make it 3-1. Australia claimed they had requested a video referral before the goal, but after a long consultation from the video umpire the goal was awarded and England were home and dry with three points on the board.

England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley:

On the performance: “I’m obviously very pleased with the win, there were periods of the game where we played some fantastic hockey. Having said that, at other times we switched off and let Australia come back at us which we can’t afford to do against teams of this quality. I will be hoping as the tournament progresses that we can eradicate the poor periods, concentrate a little more and not allow the opposition to dominate parts of the game like Australia did today.”

England debutant and Man of the Match Sam Ward

On his England debut and the team performance: “I can’t complain! When you’ve got a team like that around you it’s brilliant. And I can certainly say I haven’t played in many games like that before.”

On England’s aim for the tournament: “Obviously everytime you enter a tournament your aim is to get as far as you can and that’s exactly what we’re looking to do here. It’s a great start for us, but it’s the first day and there’s plenty more to come.”

On beating world number one side Australia: “I think it does make it a bit sweeter getting the three points against such a good side. I’ve got a few Aussie friends back home, but it’s just good to get the win and it’s been a great first day for me.”

England's next match in the Champions Trophy is against Pakistan tomorrow at 08:30 GMT. Watch all the action live on Sky Sports. For the full TV schedule click here.

Support England next summer at the EuroHockey Championships on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. More information and tickets are available from www.eurohockey2015.co.uk