Australia sent a warning to the rest of the tournament with a terrific display to sweep aside England with a 5-0 win. Goals before half time from Matt Gohdes, Liam De Young, Jaime Dwyer and a stunning strike from Kieran Govers meant Ric Charlesworth’s team led 4-0 at the break before adding a fifth through Aran Zalewski just after the interval.
Australia got off to a dream start with a goal in the first 30 seconds. Gohdes found a pocket of space inside the D and fired a low shot into the bottom corner beyond the reach of George Pinner.
England had a chance to come back into the game in the third minute, forcing their first penalty corner. Mark Gleghorne went for goal and was kept out by a fine save from Andrew Charter, who snaked out a right hand to repel the shot.
Australia’s pace and movement was causing England problems and on 12 minutes they forced a penalty corner. Chris Ciriello’s flick was well saved by Pinner but the rebound was slotted home by Liam De Young and the goal given after an umpire referral. Glenn Turner flashed a shot wide shortly after as England’s defence creaked under the pressure. Some great defensive work from Henry Weir kept the Kookaburras at bay but it wasn’t long before they had their third goal. Matthew Swann broke into the D, latching onto a ball that had popped up off a stick. He took a swing and missed but it fell to Jake Whetton who calmly picked out Jamie Dwyer at the far post for a tap in. England went for a video referral, citing the dangerous play by Swann but the video umpire was unconvinced and the goal stood.
As they had struck in the opening seconds of the half, Australia struck again right at the end. Mark Knowles lofted an aerial pass over the England defence and Kieran Govers finished splendidly on the volley for one of the goals of the tournament so far.
The Kookaburras won a penalty corner in the first minute of the second half but England defended it well. In the 38th minute however they fell further behind. Zalewski managed to get between two defenders and into the D before sending a terrific shot into the far corner, giving Pinner no chance.
Ciriello was kept out by a fine save from the England goalkeeper and then Barry Middleton produced a splendid goal line clearance to see of a Govers penalty corner. With England still pushing on aiming to get a goal back, Australia almost caught then again. An aerial pass found Dwyer who played in Glenn Turner. Turner played it back to the No1 but he was thwarted by a stunning last ditch tackle from Mark Gleghorne.
England were unable to register even a consolation and Australia continued their march toward the semi-finals.
England’s Henry Weir told The Top of the D afterwards:
“It was a tough game. If you aren’t ready against Australia you get beaten by a few goals. That’s the way it is. It’s not the end of the world. International hockey has ups and downs. This tournament was never going to be a smooth road to success, but if we win the next game it doesn’t matter. We’ll be through to the semis, which is where we want to be.”
Govers had the last word, talking about his stunning goal, saying:
“I was worried about the keeper coming out and crunching me but I’m glad Pinner stayed on his line. You could see from when Mark Knowles flicked it where it was going to land. I’m just glad no one was marking me. It’s pretty funny. I was thinking this morning how sick it’d be to score a goal from a ball that didn’t touch the pitch in the attacking half and then it happened. I’ll have look at it a few times when I get back to the hotel but that one’s in the memory bank!”
England now face a must win game against Belgium in their final pool match.
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It was men against boys, as it always seems to be against Australia!