Investec London Cup, Men: Day One Round-Up.

With the women’s games taking place in the morning, the afternoon and evening saw the men take centre stage at Lee Valley as England, South Africa, Ireland and Scotland all battled for a win in their first game. Here’s how it panned out:

Investec London Cup 2014.Ireland 4-2 South Africa.

A brace from Alan Sothern helped to give Ireland a 4-2 win over South Africa, a side ranked four places above them in the world. The No10 scored a lovely sliding deflection in the first half and then pulled off a terrific deft touch to find the roof of the net to make it 4-1 with 25 minutes to play as Craig Fulton’s side secured the three points from their opening game.

Ireland started brightly and Rassie Pieterse in the South Africa goal was forced into action early on to deny Conor Harte and Michael Robson. With 19 minutes gone, the Green Machine took the lead. Shane O’Donoghue snuck a low penalty corner underneath the goalkeeper to break the deadlock.

Davey Harte did well to repel an Austin Smith penalty corner but there was little the Kampong keeper could do to prevent Fabian Gregory’s team drawing level in the 25th minute. A turnover just outside the D let in Taine Paton and he made no mistake with an unerring finish. Four minutes later the lead was restored. Kirk Shimmins drove round the right and the ball broke to Michael Darling who shot on the turn into the far corner to make it 2-1. Ireland defended another Smith penalty corner well, with Conor Harte charging down the shot to preserve the lead at the break.

Six minutes after the break it was 3-1. Shimmins found space down the left and played an inch-perfect reverse stick cross in that was expertly finished by Sothern, diving full length to touch home. Four minutes later he grabbed his second goal with a superb deflection into the roof of the net, this time from a right wing cross.

The balance of the game shifted as Ireland were reduced to ten men after Conor Harte picked up a ten minute yellow card, but despite Lance Louw reducing the arrears the Irish defence, marshalled well by skipper John Jackson held firm to maintain their two goal lead and collect the three points.

Ireland will hope to continue their good form against Scotland in their next game.

England 6-0 Scotland.
Four goals in the first half from England were enough to put them in the driving seat in their opening Investec London Cup match with old foes Scotland. Strikes from Ashley Jackson, Henry Weir, Mark Gleghorne and Simon Mantell ensured Scotland were unable to get a foothold in the game before Phil Roper and another from Jackson put the gloss on the score line late on.

England took the lead on two minutes. A trademark Jackson drag flick found the roof of the net giving Gavin Sommerville in the Scotland goal no chance.

Alan Forsyth almost levelled the scores straight away but his snap shot went wide of the far post. Jackson sent another penalty corner over the bar and then Roper blazed a reverse stick effort into the stands as England pressed for another goal. With 11 minutes on the clock the lead was doubled. Henry Weir popped up in the right place to stab home from close range.

Dan Fox almost made it three but his sliding deflection from Nick Catlin’s pass went just wide and then Somerville made an excellent stop from Gleghorne’s penalty corner.

On 27 minutes, Roper again produced some excellent 3D skills and squeezed through the defence along the baseline to set up Gleghorne who supplied the finish. Sommerville produced more heroics to save from Brogdon and then he made a splendid diving save to turn a Jackson penalty corner over the bar. The Scotland keeper was unlucky to beaten by Mantell’s scrambled fourth just before half time as England extended their lead.

Investec London Cup 2014.The second half was a quieter affair with England seemingly content to sit on their lead and Scotland defending much better, not allowing their opponents time and space on the ball. With five minutes remaining, however Roper capped a fine individual display with the fifth goal, cutting in from the right and hitting a lovely reverse stick strike into the bottom corner. Jackson rounded off the night with the sixth from another penalty corner.

England will face South Africa, in their second match tomorrow.

Photos courtesy of Ady Kerry.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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