England just fall short in extraordinary Indian encounter

Ansell v India CWG 2018
India 4 (0)
Manpreet (FG, 33); Rupinder (PC, 51); Kumar (PC, 59); Mandeep (FG, 60)

England 3 (1)
Condon (FG, 17); Ansell (PC, 52); Ward (PC, 56)

England will play Australia in the semi-finals of the 2018 Commonwealth Games as they agonisingly lost to India in a thrilling match at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre.

Sam Ward’s seventh goal of the tournament looked to have secured a remarkable comeback for his team after they had trailed with nine minutes to go, with Liam Ansell initially levelling the scores.

But two goals in the final two minutes from Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh secured a remarkable win for India that sees them finish top of Pool B.

David Condon had given England the half-time lead but goals from Manpreet Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh gave India the advantage, before Ansell started the grandstand finish with a corner strike of his own in the 52nd minute.

Despite having playing only yesterday, the game started at a ferocious tempo with Lalit Upadhyay firing a golden fourth minute opportunity wide after Harry Gibson did well to save Gurjant Singh’s effort. 

Dilpreet Singh then scuffed a shot shortly after before England won the game’s first corner in the sixth minute, Mark Gleghorne’s forcing Sreejesh Parattu into a good save.

Substitute George Pinner was then forced into immediate action at the start of the second quarter to kick the ball away from Akashdeep Singh as he wound up for a shot, before England raced down the other end with Condon unfurling a brilliant shot on the reverse to open the scoring.

Ansell almost doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time but Parattu saved his snapshot before Gleghorne did well to charge down a penalty corner at the start of the second half as India came flying out of the traps.

And it didn’t take long for them to make that momentum count as Gurjant intercepted a pass from Ian Sloan before Mandeep Singh set up Manpreet to slot the ball past Gibson’s outstretched leg in the 33rd minute.

Mandeep and Sloan both came close with further efforts in the third quarter before the game really kicked off in the final period, with Rupinder giving India the lead for the first time as his strike beat an unlucky Pinner after taking two deflections.

England responded almost immediately as Ansell crunched a clever corner routine past Parattu before Ward did likewise in the 56th minute to seemingly secure the victory.

India however had other ideas and with just 100 seconds remaining grabbed the equaliser as Kumar’s corner was once again deflected beyond Pinner.

The drama wasn’t over there though as India pushed for the winner and it duly came less than a minute later as Manpreet just got a touch on a fizzing ball into the circle which flew high into Pinner’s net, capping off a truly remarkable match.

England Starting XI: Gibson (GK), Sanford, Gleghorne, Creed, Willars, Middleton, Martin, Sloan (C), Condon, Griffiths, Ward

Subs: Pinner (GK), Dixon, Weir, Gall, Goodfield, Roper, Ansell