England run riot against Russia

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England 10 (6)
Barry Middleton 9 (FG)
David Condon 11, 15, 25 (FG, FG, FG)
Chris Griffiths 18 (FG)
Iain Lewers 23 (FG)
Sam Ward 34 (FG)
Mark Gleghorne 34 (PC)
Nick Catlin 41 (FG)
David Ames 58 (FG)

Russia 1 (1)
Pavel Plesetskii 30 (FG)

A first half hat-trick from David Condon got England’s Unibet EuroHockey Championships off to a dream start as a first half blitz swept aside Russia. The hosts fired in six goals in a searing opening 30 minutes on their way to a dominant 10-1 victory. Condon’s treble set the tone and seven of his team mates also got in on the act ensuring the home crowd went home happy.

England forced their first penalty corner of the match after two minutes but Ashley Jackson couldn’t find the target and his effort fizzed wide of the post. Russia then immediately forced a corner at the other end. Skipper Nikolay Yankun took the shot but his effort also went wide.

England started to impose themselves on the game and with six minutes left in the first quarter the hosts took the lead. Mark Gleghorne’s cross was diverted in by a diving Barry Middleton to the delight of the home crowd. They struck again a minute later, Middleton started the move with a lovely run and pass into the channel to set Sam Ward free, Ward’s cross was inch perfect and a sliding Condon doubled the advantage. The East Grinstead man notched his second of the match right on the stroke of quarter time, picking the ball up inside the circle and firing a lovely backhand shot into the corner of the net.

It was 4-0 moments into the second quarter; Nick Catlin’s mazy run set up Chris Griffiths who slotted home past the stranded goalkeeper. Next, Iain Lewers got in on the act, pouncing on a loose ball inside the Russian half before blasting a low shot into the corner to make it 5-0. Condon completed his hat-trick five minutes before the break, snapping up a rebound after Marat Gafarov had saved Ward’s shot. Pavel Plesetskii clawed one back for Russia just before half time but they had a mountain to climb in the second half.

England came out in the third quarter and immediately seized control again. With four minutes on the clock Ward forced home from close range to get his name on the score sheet and then Mark Gleghorne added the eighth with a bullet penalty corner into the roof of the net. Nick Catlin stabbed in from close range to make it 9-1 with a full quarter still to play.

Gafarov made a stunning save to deny Jackson from a penalty corner before both goalkeepers were replaced allowing James Bailey and Ivan Ozherelev to take to the field. Ozherelev was beaten with two minutes left to play as David Ames scored his first goal for England, making it 10-1 to send the crowd into frenzy and to give Bobby Crutchley’s side an impressive win.

England’s next match of the competition is against the Netherlands and takes place on 23 August at 18:15. Coverage is on the BBC Red button and BBC Sport website.

Quotes – David Condon, England:

“I don’t think we can argue with that. We didn’t have much information on the Russians going into the game so we tried to concentrate on ourselves. We weren’t sure what they would do so we set out stall out and made sure we were aggressive and relentless.

With Russia being fairly unknown we weren’t sure how important this game could end up being in our group, so we wanted to set a marker down and make sure we win all our games.

We play Holland next, but we’re confident. As a squad we’ve sometimes struggled to create clear chances so to score ten goals will give us plenty of confidence for the next games.”