A splendid display from Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Andrey Rocke was in vain as England’s penalty corner routines helped Bobby Crutchley’s side to a 6-1 win in their opening Commonwealth Games match in Glasgow tonight.
Goals from Ashley Jackson, Iain Lewers, Mark Gleghorne, Nick Catlin, Phil Roper and Captain Barry Middleton did the damage with Mickell Pierre netting the consolation for T&T.
England managed 39 shots on goal but found Rocke to be in inspired form as he continued to defy Crutchley’s strikers with some superb goalkeeping.
He set the tone in the fourth minute with an excellent save to his right, getting a foot to the ball to keep out Jackson; however with just five minutes on the clock there was nothing Rocke could do to keep out the England No7 who rippled the net with a trademark penalty corner to make it 1-0.
Gleghorne went close minutes later but his deflection as he slid in at the far post crashed against the woodwork and away to safety.
Kwan Browne had his side’s first chance at goal, but the No7, who plays his club hockey in England, was fractionally too high with his penalty corner. Pierre showed some lovely skills in the first half, twisting and turning to engineer space in tight areas and keeping the England defence occupied every time he had possession.
With ten minutes to go to the break, England made it 2-0. Rocke did well to keep out Jackson from a penalty corner but Lewers slapped in the rebound giving the goalkeeper no chance. Gleghorne then made it three with a superb drag flick that clipped the post on its way in. With England seemingly cruising, the impressive Pierre pulled one back, cutting in from the right and wrong-footing George Pinner with a shot inside the near post to make it 3-1 at the break.
After the interval England continued to dominate. Rocke saved well from Jackson and then did well to see off an effort from Simon Mantell but it wasn’t long before England made it 4-1. Catlin pounced to slot home a rebound at a penalty corner after the goalkeeper had made yet another save. Gleghorne forced an excellent glove save out of the goalkeeper as England racked up the shots on goal.
Roper added his name to the score sheet with eleven minutes left. The Wimbledon man showed exquisite touch to bring a hard hit pass under control and dinked a lovely reverse stick chip over the onrushing goalkeeper for his first Commonwealth Games goal and his seventh goal for England. There was still time for a splendid double save from Rocke and a sixth goal for England, which came from Middleton and England were off to the perfect start.
Captain Barry Middleton said afterwards:
“People underestimate teams with their rankings. In the end we have won the game quite comfortably but you have to fight to get that chance to start putting some goals in. There are no games where they are going to roll over and let you walk past them, you still have to work hard for them. There was no messing about from us, or thinking we are better than them; when we are like that we don’t play to our full potential. It’s a win in the end and I’m happy with that.”
England’s next game is against Malaysia on Sunday.