England picked up their first win of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup with a last gasp goal from Simon Mantell to sink India snatching a 2-1 victory. Defender Dan Fox could not hide his relief at the final whistle:
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves. We’re delighted to get the win, obviously and it’s a massive step for us. If we’d drawn or lost that game it’d be very difficult to come through the group in first or second place. We didn’t play well but we got the three points and that’s all that really matters.”
Fox had an eventful game, taking a heavy blow to the knee from a penalty corner which threatened to cut short his participation in the tournament. He left the field on a stretcher, but thanks to some new protective equipment, he was able to re-enter the fray a few minutes later.
“We only introduced wearing knee pads a week or so ago. I was probably staring down the barrel of never being able to play again if I hadn’t been wearing those. If you run down the line on corners you know you’re going to get a few on the shins and the knees but when you take one like that it’s really painful. You get the initial shock of the hit, then the pain for about five minutes and then, I was ok. Hopefully, with a bit of ice and some treatment it’ll be fine in a few days.”
Fox’s return to the field was significant for England in a number of ways. The Holcombe defender is one of the senior players in the side and with Iain Lewers nursing a dead leg, Bobby Crutchley could ill afford to lose another key man.
“Playing with a full squad of 18 makes a massive difference. Every player you take away from that makes it harder for everyone else. Regardless of who gets injured and when it is, you know if you can get back on the pitch it’ll make a big difference.” He added: “You want to play the whole time. This is the World Cup after all. Every game is a massive one so I’m delighted it wasn’t anything more serious and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of grief from the rest of the boys for needing a stretcher.”
As well as his injury scare, Fox was involved in the penalty corner that resulted in Mantell’s dramatic late strike. He was unlucky to see his deflection saved by the goalkeeper before his team mate despatched the rebound.
“Normally if you get a good stick on those it’s a goal. It came off the ‘keeper’s head and I don’t think he knew a lot about it. When it came back off him I thought in that instant our chance had gone but then Si smashed it in with a brilliant finish. We spend a lot of time working on those so it’s great that it came off by hook or by crook.”
With England not quite hitting their top form yet understandably their travelling fans and those watching on the television back home have endured a stressful time. The England defender says he understands the feeling, but would much rather be out on the field than watching in the stands.
“I’ve watched games before and it’s never nice and never easy. When you’re out there, obviously it’s frustrating when things aren’t going well but you don’t carry the tension the way the fans do. Hopefully we can perform better in the next game and make life a bit easier on ourselves and the supporters.”
The Top of the D would like to thank Dan Fox for his time and wish him and the team the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.