England's World League progress halted by stubborn Argentina

England men huddle v Argentina 2017 HWL F
England (1) 2
Condon (29, FG), Dixon (60, FG)

Argentina (2) 3
Vila (21, FG), Paredes (29, FG), Gilardi (34, PS)

England’s quest for an Odisha Hockey World League Final medal was ended by a dogged Argentina at the quarter-final stages in India.

Adam Dixon’s final minute effort gave England a chance of setting up a grandstand finish but it was ultimately not enough to stop the Olympic champions from claiming their first win of the tournament.

David Condon’s fearsome strike just before half-time gave his side a chance after earlier goals from Lucas Vila and Martin Paredes.

Vila controlled the game on his 200th appearance and won a penalty stroke in the 34th minute which Juan Gilardi smartly converted to restore his side’s two goal advantage that would prove too much for England to overcome, despite Dixon’s late goal.

The first quarter was a rather cagey affair as both sides tried to settle into the game, with neither creating any clear cut chances.

But in the 21st minute the game rather unexpectedly sprang into life as a hopeful ball into the circle deflected off Vila’s stick and over George Pinner’s leg to open the scoring for Argentina.

Eight minutes later that lead was doubled as a deflected aerial fell kindly for captain Paredes, who skipped his way into the circle before squeezing a reverse stick shot between Pinner’s legs.

England hit back immediately though as Condon smashed the ball past Juan Vivaldi after Barry Middleton’s pass fell kindly for the East Grinstead man after a partial block to give his team hope going into the break.

But their defence was breached once again four minutes after half-time as a scintillating move by Argentina saw Harry Gibson bring down Vila in the area, with Gilardi easily converting the resulting penalty stroke.

The Argentinians then once again set about keeping their opponents out while Vila forced Gibson into a save with a fierce shot in the 41st minute.

England pushed hard in the final quarter to find a way back into the game, winning four penalty corners and eventually finding a way past Vivaldi after Lucas Rossi diverted Dixon’s cross past his own goalkeeper.

But there was to be no dramatic equaliser for England as their 30 year winless streak against their South American opponents continued, having not beaten them since a 2-1 victory at the 1986 World Cup.

Starting XI: Gibson, Ames, Martin, Ward, Gleghorne, Dixon, Middleton, Creed, Condon, C Griffiths, Sanford

Subs (Used): Pinner, Taylor, Roper (C), Goodfield, Ansell, Gall