Two goals from Timothy Cockram in a pulsating last quarter rescued a draw for Lisnagarvey in a very entertaining match against Lille.
With Bloemendaal the other side in the group both sides were aware this match was crucial to their hopes of qualification. Lille raced into a 3-0 lead but the Irish side refused to lie down.
Peter Macdonnell and Jonathan Quigley went close early on as Lille’s defence looked shaky in the early going.
Lille had barely been in the game when they took the lead through Fernando Mondaca who squeezed home at the far post despite the efforts of goalkeeper John Tormey.
It was 2-0 seconds later as a good attack down the left saw the ball slapped into the D where Gaspard Clin lifted over Tormey’s shoulder and into the net.
It was almost 3-0 as Clin again went close but this time his effort was cleared by the goalkeeper.
The second quarter took a while to get going as Lille seemed happy with what they had whilst Garvey were working hard to get back level. Mark Raphael fired in a cross and Greg Thompson tried to force it past Matthias Dierckens but was met with stern resistance.
With about three minutes in the quarter left Lille grabbed their third as Yannick Chambert caught the defence napping with a quick free hit. He waited for the goalkeeper to go to ground before calmly lifting it over him and into the net.
Garvey’s fans were not giving up hope and were vociferous throughout the whole game. Jonathan Bell found Stuart McNeice in the D but the No9 fired wide.
Lille forced a penalty corner but Tormey stood tall and kept it out. Lisnagarvey forced a penalty corner of their own but Cockram’s flick was splendidly saved low to the right by Dierckens.
As the fourth quarter began it looked as though Lille would see out the game for a precious win. However not even the most die-hard of the Irish side’s fans would have foreseen the events of the final quarter. Within 4 minutes of the restart Cockram got the better of the goalkeeper with a fierce drag flick which Dierckens got a glove to but could not stop.
Raphael, who showed his wonderful individual skills throughout broke three tackles on his way into the D. The ball fell to Philip Stirling who took the chance and made it 3-2. The goal stood despite a video appeal from Lille.
Lille were visibly shaken and retreated further and further into their own half as the Irish side pushed for the equaliser. Dierckens kept out two more penalty corners including a fantastic diving save from Cockram and another good stick save low down from Steven Arbuthnot.
With time running out Garvey forced another corner. Cockram put everything into the flick, ending up on the ground after he released it. The ball seemed to bamboozle the goalkeeper and thudded into the backboard sending the Irish fans into raptures.
A real chance missed by Lille, but a spirited and deserved draw for Lisnagarvey. The qualification now depends on the outcome of the Irish side’s clash with HC Bloemndaal tomorrow.