England's winning start at Indoor World Cup

CZECH REPUBLIC 1 (0)
Richard Kobrc 29 (F)  

ENGLAND 2 (0)
Glenn Kirkham 26 (F)  
Simon Mantell 33 (PS)  

England’s first ever Indoor World Cup campaign got off to a winning start as second half goals from East Grinstead’s Glenn Kirkham and Reading’s Simon Mantell sealed a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Poland.

With four Englishmen making their indoor international debuts in Poznan, England took to the pitch against the side that finished fourth in the 2007 World Cup with just 50 international indoor appearances between their starting six.

Barry Middleton bears down on the Czech Republic goalkeeper Filip Neusser at the FIH Indoor World Cup in Poznan, PolandAfter an action packed but goalless first half in which defences, and particularly goalkeepers, were on top, England found a way through the Czech rearguard after good work from captain Barry Middleton (right) set up East Grinstead’s Glenn Kirkham to give England the lead in the 26th minute.  It was a lead that lasted just a matter of minutes before Richard Kobrc equalised for the Czechs following which England survived a spell of Czech pressure.  With just under ten minutes remaining, Reading’s Simon Mantell scored the winning penalty stroke after Surbiton’s James Tindall had been upended by Filip Neusser in the Czech goal.

Of England’s four indoor debutants, Barry Middleton and James Tindall started the match with Simon Mantell and Wimbledon’s Rob Moore coming on as substitutes. 

England began the match well and Middleton, who will return to his German club for the outdoor season following the Indoor World Cup, saw an early shot saved by Filip Neusser in the second minute.  Neusser saw plenty of action in the opening period as Tindall’s effort on his reverse was subsequently thwarted in the fourth minute.

The Czech Republic found their footing in the match soon after and Reading goalkeeper Nick Brothers was called upon, making a good save in the seventh minute. 

England’s first penalty corner after quarter of an hour saw James Tindall’s flick come up high off Neusser but with advantage called by the umpire England failed to convert on the rebound.  A minute later, Barry Middleton found himself through on goal but again Neusser, also the Czech captain, prevented the England captain from breaking the deadlock.  At the other end Brothers again kept the match goalless just before the break.

The Czech Republic started the second half strongly with Stepan Bernatek narrowly lobbing the ball over the crossbar.  Another Brothers save followed before East Grinstead’s Glenn Kirkham opened the scoring.  A move down the left hand side culminated in Middleton finding the space to drive at the circle before squaring the ball to Kirkham who lifted it over Neusser and into the goal for 1-0.

Simon Mantell with Czech Republic goalkeeper Filip Neusser at the FIH Indoor World Cup in Poznan, PolandEngland’s lead did not last long with Richard Kobrc walking the ball into the net just a few minutes later after a moment of confusion at the back following a Czech free hit.  The goal sparked the Czechs back into life and into an ascendancy that required the intervention of the England goalkeeper twice more as he saved from Ondrej Vudmaska and Kotrc.  But just as the Czechs were looking the likelier to score again, Tindall emerged with the ball from the top of the English circle and drove the length of the pitch at pace.  Bearing down on the Czech circle, he was upended by Neusser, resulting in a penalty stroke.  Up stepped Reading’s Simon Mantell (pictured), whose penalty went in down the middle of the goal to put England back in front. 

Tindall then saw another shot saved before Middleton served a one minute suspension for a green card.  With two minutes remaining the Czech Republic withdrew Neusser and replaced him with a ‘kicking back’ outfielder but England dealt well with the outfield numerical advantage and came close to extending the winning margin in the final minute.  Surbiton’s Richard Alexander received the ball with his back to goal but he could not control the pass and the ball ran off the pitch with the goal open.  It was of little consequence to the final outcome though and England held on for a 2-1 victory.

After the match, England Indoor Head Coach Andy Halliday said, “We knew it would be a hard game only the odd goal in it.  I’m pleased that we stuck to our game plan and it has paid off.”

The campaign progresses apace with two England matches on Wednesday.  First up, the Russians in the second game of the day at 10:15 GMT before USA at 15:15 GMT.

ENGLAND’S STARTING VI AND SUBSTITUTES v CZECH REPUBLIC 
Started

Nick Brothers (Reading) GK; Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Def/Mid/Fwd; Richard Mantell (Reading) Def; Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) Mid; Barry Middleton (East Grinstead/Der Club An Der Alster) Mid/Fwd; James Tindall (Surbiton) Fwd

Used Substitute
Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Def; Richard Springham (Reading) Def; Iain Mackay (Reading) Mid/Fwd; Rob Moore (Wimbledon) Mid/Fwd; Simon Mantell (Reading) Fwd

Unused Substitute
George Pinner (Beeston) GK


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Photos courtesy of hockeyimages.co.uk