Quickfire England set themselves for Austrian showdown

Richard Mantell 5,14 (PC,PC)  
Iain Mackay 6 (F)  
Simon Mantell 7 (F)  
Barry Middleton 22 (F)  
Rob Moore 32 (F)  
IRAN 4 (0)
Reza Norouzzadeh 36,40,40 (F,PC,PC)  
Roohollah Roufi 37 (PC)  

Victory over Iran ensures England’s Indoor World Cup fate is still in their own hands as three goals from Reading's Mantell brothers Richard and Simon, and first indoor international goals from captain Barry Middleton and Wimbledon’s Rob Moore helped seal a 6-4 win in Poznan. The Mantells' Reading teammate Iain Mackay also found the mark as England roared into an unassailable early lead.

Russia's subsequent 1-0 win over Austria means that England will qualify for the semi finals on Saturday if they take at least a point from their game against Austria, which takes place at 12:45 GMT on Friday.

The opening exchanges of what would become England’s performance of the tournament so far saw Iran put the ball in the net after just four minutes but the ‘goal’ was disallowed for an earlier infringement. 

England’s response was to score three quickfire goals in as many minutes as first Reading’s Richard Mantell slotted home a penalty corner before clubmate Iain Mackay got the final touch on a cross from Mantell's young brother Simon a minute later. And the roles were reversed for England's third less than 60 seconds later when Mackay turned provider for Simon Mantell to find the net with an excellent deflection.

Three up in seven minutes, England’s disciplined approach allowed them to keep at bay Iran’s playmaker Yaghoub Bahrami.  When England were awarded another penalty corner on 14 minutes Richard Mantell found the back of the net again from the left of the circle.

Since the fourth minute, England goalkeeper Nick Brothers had hardly seen the ball but he was pleased to see Iran shoot wide just before half time after winning the ball on the top of the England circle.

Barry Middleton v. Iran, FIH Indoor World Cup, Poznan 10 Feb 2011England started the second half as they had played throughout the first and just two minutes after the restart Barry Middleton, who plays his outdoor club hockey in Germany, audaciously lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper for 5-0.  It was his first indoor international goal and it was followed by another first, this time from the stick of Wimbledon’s Rob Moore, who slid in to score after excellent work from Mackay down the right hand side.

With England 6-0 up, Iran began to come back into the match and with just five minutes remaining started to show the ability they have shown in spells throughout the tournament.  Four minutes from end, a defensive lapse in the English backline allowed Reza Norouzzadeh to steal in and pull one back.

A yellow card for Middleton saw England reduced to five men for three of the final four minutes and Iran took advantage of the awarded penalty corner to net again, this time through Roohollah Roufi.  Middleton returned in the final minute but there was still time for Norouzzadeh to set up a nervy ending as he found the back of the net twice from penalty corners in the last 60 seconds.

Afterwards, England Indoor Head Coach Andy Halliday said he was pleased with the result and that his side had learned from previous games: “I was really pleased with our defensive shape, structure and discipline for the most part.  The players learnt the lessons from the USA game and it showed today.  There were a few lapses towards the end but we knew Iran had the capability to cause us some problems.  It’s a good win as the group is looking particularly tight.”

Visit the Official tournament website here.

Catch up with England's previous Indoor World Cup matches at www.englandhockey.co.uk/indoorworldcup.

Image courtesy of hockeyimages.co.uk