England U21s off to winning start at Junior World Cup

England celebrate scoring at HJWC2016

England 4 (3)
Ed Horler 5, 9 (PC, PC)
Peter Scott 11 (FG)
Jonty Griffiths 62 (FG)

South Africa 2 (1)
Matthew De Sousa 13 (FG)
Ryan Crowe 56 (FG)

A first half blitz from England handed them a win in their opening match of the Junior World Cup against South Africa in Lucknow, India. Three goals in the opening 11 minutes from Ed Horler (twice) and Peter Scott put Jon Bleby’s side in the driving seat and despite South Africa hitting back through Matthew De Sousa and Ryan Crowe, Jonty Griffiths’ goal eight minutes from time made the points safe.  

England suffered an early setback as James Simpson was stretchered off after being caught in the face by De Sousa. Undeterred, they gathered themselves and pushed South Africa back. After five minutes they won their first penalty corner. Horler took the responsibility and found the bottom corner with a superb drag flick. Four minutes later the Loughborough Students man repeated the trick with an almost identical set piece to grab his and his team’s second goal. There was barely time to draw breath when England made it 3-0. The ball was fed into the circle where Scott turned and hit an unstoppable backhand into the roof of the net.

South Africa got on the board in the 13th minute after a lovely solo effort from De Sousa as there was no let up in either side’s attacking intent.

Garreth Ewing’s side began to threaten but a superb stick save by Chris Wyver denied Charlie Bowren and then the England goalkeeper did brilliantly to block from Nqobile Ntuli. Horler came close to his hat-trick just before the break but his drag flick flashed just wide.  

Horler resumed his personal battle with South Africa goalkeeper Robert McKinley in the second half but this time the goalkeeper did well low to his right to get a stick on the ball and keep it out.

At the other end Wyver was performing heroics effecting some good saves to deny Kyle Lion-Cachet from a number of penalty corners. Chris Proctor almost made it 4-1 with a mazy dribble along the baseline but he could not smuggle the ball past McKinley.

Despite failing to beat Wyver from set-pieces South Africa were right back in the contest with 14 minutes left after a neat finish from Crowe reduced the arrears to 3-2. Some nervy moment followed with Wyver again excelling and keeping his side in front. With eight minutes on the clock the ball broke to Griffiths in the circle and he lashed a superb strike past the goalkeeper to seal the points.

Man of the match Horler said afterwards:
“it’s a fantastic start for us. We’ve had a great week of preparation in Lucknow and it’s nice to start off with a win. We’ve got a day off tomorrow and then we play the home nation in front of the home crowd so that should be a good game.”

England’s next match is against hosts, India on Saturday at 1330 UK time. All the tournament information is here.

You can see England's senior men in action on home turf during Summer 2017 as the Hockey World League Semi-Final comes to London. All the information you need is right here.