Bleby hails "improving" England after New Zealand win

Chris Proctor breaks forwards with the ball

England U21 4 (2)
Jack Clee 11 (FG)
Peter Scott 28 (FG)
Tom Sorsby 40 (PC)
Chris Proctor 59 (FG)

New Zealand 2 (0)
Aidan Sarikaya 51 (FG)
Dylan Thomas 57 (FG) 

Jon Bleby’s England U21s kept alive their hopes of reaching the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup with a 4-2 win over New Zealand. Bouncing back from their defeat by Japan in the last match England saw off the challenge of the Junior Blacksticks to set up a must win game with Australia in their final pool match.

The England coach praised his side’s continued improvements throughout the tournament but stressed that they were “not quite there yet”:

“We’ve spoken in our team meetings and said that whether we win, lose or draw we want to keep improving. We’re not producing the perfect performance yet but we’re aiming for it and we’re getting better.”  

England hit the front in the 11th minute through a beautifully taken goal. Chris Proctor carved his way through the heart of the New Zealand midfield and slid the ball into Jack Clee. He calmly drew the goalkeeper before knocking it home.  

Peter Scott doubled the lead before half time with a turn and shot in the circle that found the net via a deflection. Five minutes after the interval Tom Sorsby bagged a third from a penalty corner to put England in a commanding lead.

New Zealand struck back in the 51st minute through Aidan Sarikaya and then made it 3-2 via an outrageous one-handed reverse stick strike from Dylan Thomas. However two minutes later Proctor made the game safe with a diving deflection to turn in Duncan Scott’s right wing cross.

At the full time whilst Bleby praised his team’s character saying:

“We’re pleased to get the win. We’ve conceded some late goals in the last games so I’m pleased we were better at getting ahead and staying ahead today.”

“We’re delighted to get the three points because it gives us a chance to make the final of this tournament. We have to beat Australia, it’ll be an Ashes battle but we’re very excited for it.”

England’s next match is the vital clash with Australia, 8am UK time which can be watched here.