Report and reaction: Late strike denies England opening win

England v China HWC2018
England 2 (1)
Gleghorne (PC, 14); Ansell (FG, 48)

China 2 (1)
Guo (FG, 5); Du (PC, 59)

A late goal from Du Talake denied England a win in their opening game of the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup. 

Liam Ansell thought he had sewn up victory with a late strike as the forward showed great tenacity to rob the ball off a defender in the circle before producing an inch perfect finish.

That came after Mark Gleghorne equalised at the end of the first quarter, following a fine solo goal from Guo Xiaoping that gave the world number 17 side the early advantage.

But despite England having plenty of other attempts it was Du who had the final say, seeing a corner sneak into the net with just over a minute remaining, much to the frustration of Barry Middleton.

"It was tough. I think we controlled it how we wanted to but we've got a few things to work on around the circle," he said.

"They took the chances they had and that's what it comes down to in the end.

"We wanted to win, it just came to down detail around the circle. We had chances, we had the ball up there a lot but they made it count when they got around our circle."

China took a surprise lead in the fifth minute as Guo showed fantastic hand speed with a mazy run down the left before lifting the ball over George Pinner.

That came shortly after Zach Wallace had forced Wang Caiyu into a save as the midfielder caused the Chinese defence plenty of problems on his World Cup debut, seeing another shot deflected over before Ian Sloan flashed an effort wide.

England pressed further in the second quarter, with Ansell seeing a fierce strike blocked while a diving Middleton couldn’t quite turn in Luke Taylor’s corner.

Their defence was also kept alert as they were required to keep out three successive corners, Liam Sanford charging down two while Gibson saved the other.

The chances kept coming in the third quarter but England still couldn’t find their second as Middleton mis-hit a shot on the turn wide, Harry Martin fired over the bar and Dave Condon was denied by Wang’s face after a great run down the right.

It finally came though in the 48th minute as Ansell struck, while Phil Roper was unlucky not to score himself seconds later as his effort on the reverse smashed the crossbar.

The final word was to go to China though as Du somehow managed to find a gap between Harry Gibson and Middleton to equalise

Next up for England it’s Australia on Tuesday 4 December at 11:30am live on BT Sport.

Starting XI: Pinner (GK), Ames, Sloan, Gleghorne, Roper (C), Dixon, Middleton, Ansell, Gall, Sanford, Wallace

Subs: Gibson (GK), Taylor, Martin, Hoare, Condon, Waller, Calnan