Opening game defeat for England

England v Germany HWL Final 2017
Germany (2) 2
Grambusch (19, FG), Ruhr (26, FG)

England (0) 0

England fell to defeat against a strong German outfit in the opening game of the Odisha Hockey World League Finals in India.

Second quarter goals from Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr were enough for the Germans to come away with the victory, despite England starting the game on top.

Bobby Crutchley’s side did have good chances of their own through Liam Ansell and Phil Roper but goalkeeper Tobias Walter was on hand to thwart both efforts.

But on the whole it was Germany who dominated much of the game against an England team missing three players due to illness to start their tournament in the best possible fashion.

Much of the possession belonged with England early on as they initially started the sharper of the two sides, with Mark Gleghorne and Anselltesting Walter inside the first seven minutes.

The world number five outfit then sprang into life at the start of the second quarter, with Niklas Bruns slapping a shot wide after substitute ‘keeper Harry Gibson made a good save down low to his left.

But just three minutes Germany took the lead as Martin Zwicker raced up the centre of the field before feeding Florian Fuchs, the midfielder then keeping his composure to set up Grambusch to tuck his effort into an empty goal.

Germany kept on piling on the pressure thereafter and extended their lead in the 26th minute as Ruhr unleashed a fearsome shot past Gibson after a fantastic run down the right by Fuchs.

England then held firm despite continued dominance by their opponents in the third quarter, forcing Constantin Staib and Grambusch into speculative reverse stick efforts from narrow angles.

Then, in a rare foray forward in the 41st minute, Roper – making his 50th England appearance – almost snuck a shot between Walter’s legs but could not quite connect perfectly and the German ‘keeper did well to keep it out.

His opposite number George Pinner – nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year earlier in the day – then instinctively kept out a deflection from Dan Nguyen to ensure the lead did not increase at the end of the third quarter.

A yellow card for Marco Miltkau with 11 minutes to play gave England an opportunity and they almost took advantage immediately but Sam Ward was deemed to have not touched Gleghorne’s vicious cross on its way into the goal, despite a referral.

But that was to be as good as it got in the final quarter as Germany closed out the game to avenge their loss to England in the bronze medal game during the summer’s EuroHockey Championships.

Starting XI: Pinner (C), Weir, Ward, Gleghorne, Roper, Dixon, Middleton, Ansell, Condon, C Griffiths, Sanford

Subs (Used): Taylor, Gibson , Goodfield, Gall

Subs (Unused): Ames, Martin, Creed