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England set up dream final for Super 9s with win over Pakistan
England remain unbeaten in the Super 9s tournament with a convincing 4-2 victory over Pakistan. England and Australia will finish top of the group and are set to face each other in their final pool match tomorrow (6.05am UK time) and then again in the final on Sunday at 6am (UK time).
England’s victory over Pakistan was a resolute and ultimately dominant performance with goals coming from the returning captain Barry Middleton, Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles’ (BEL) Nick Catlin (2) and Beeston’s Ben Arnold who at 22 was making only his second senior international appearance.
East Grinstead’s Mark Gleghorne watched from the sidelines with a bruised shoulder.
England coach, Bobby Crutchley said, "It was a pleasing win, particularly with the way we changed our tactical approach after playing into Pakistan's hands during the first half. We kept possession well in the second half and look forward to two games against Australia in their backyard over the weekend."
In contrast with the performance yesterday against India, it was the opposition who demonstrated a smarter tactical approach during the early stages. England struggled to find a foothold in the game and it was somewhat unsurprising when Abdul Haseem Khan found the target after just three minutes of play. Cannock goalkeeper, Patrick Smith, had little chance after a flowing move down the Pakistan right had carved open a slightly flat-footed English defence.
Pakistan worked together well and enjoyed a high turnover of England possession in their half. In goal, Smith saw a rasping drive from Shakeel Abbasi go narrowly wide. However in the ninth minute, somewhat against the run of play, England forced their first penalty corner of the game after good work from Catlin. A well worked corner move ended with Middleton sliding in at the far post and tapping home from close range. Unfortunately, parity only lasted two minutes as the ever dangerous Abbasi created space before unleashing a low drive past Smith to make it 2-1.
As the half came to an end England became more careful with possession. Catlin and Middleton stamped their authority on the game, but the end product wasn’t there and Pakistan, defending deep in their half, remained a goal to the good as the sides went in for half time.
Attacking hockey was top of the agenda for England as they came out for the second period of 20 minutes at the Perth Hockey Stadium. Crisper, more clinical passing paved the way for three England goals without reply and it took just two minutes for Catlin to find the target as he scored from a penalty shuffle after Middleton had been cynically upended with the goal at his mercy.
In the 26th minute, after Waterloo Ducks’ Alastair Brogdon and Reading’s Darren Cheesman had been making inroads into Pakistan’s defence, England forced their third penalty corner of the game. Another well worked move was this time finished by Beeston’s Ben Arnold with a simple tap in on the far post.
England had the lead for the first time in the match and with Hampstead and Westminster’s Dan Fox and Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles’ Richard Smith marshalling a well organised defence, they did not look likely to give it up.
Whilst Pakistan were enjoying little opportunity in their attacking circle it was a different story at the other end. Richard Smith’s club teammate Catlin was back on the score sheet again in the 32nd minute as he fired in a reverse stick shot to put England 4-2 ahead with their fourth penalty corner of the game. Hopes of any lingering victory for the Asian team were fast disappearing and their cause was not helped when Shafqat Rasool was shown a yellow card late on for a crude off the ball challenge on Beeston’s Michael Hoare.
With the full 40 minutes counted down England walked away with a deserved 4-2 victory and a place in Sunday’s final against Australia who beat India 4-3 in the second fixture of the day.
England’s next pool game is tomorrow at 06:05 (UK time) against Australia and whilst both teams will go into the fixture knowing they have qualified for the final it is unlikely that it will be anything other than an action-packed and fiery contest in the Perth mid-afternoon heat.
Result: PAKISTAN 2 (2), Abdul Haseem Khan (F) 3 , Shakeel Abbasi (F) 11; ENGLAND 4 (1) Barry Middleton (PC) 9, Nick Catlin (PS,PC) 22,32, Ben Arnold (PC) 26
ENGLAND SQUAD V PAKISTAN
Name (Club) [Position]
Patrick Smith (Cannock) [Goalkeeper]
Richard Smith (Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles) (BEL) [Defender]
Michael Hoare (Beeston) [Defender]
Dan Fox (Hampstead & Westminster) [Defender]
Henry Weir (Loughborough Students) [Midfielder]
Dan Shingles (Southgate) [Midfielder]
Barry Middleton (c) (HGC) (NED) [Midfielder/Forward]
Alastair Brogdon (Waterloo Ducks) (BEL) [Forward]
Nick Catlin (Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles) (BEL) [Forward]
George Pinner (Beeston) [Goalkeeper]
Ollie Willars (Beeston) [Defender]
Harry Martin (Beeston) [Midfielder]
David Condon (Loughborough Students) [Midfielder]
Adam Dixon (Beeston) [Defender/Midfielder]
Ben Arnold (Beeston) [Forward]
Simon Egerton (Beeston) [Forward]
Darren Cheesman (Reading) [Midfielder]
Did not play
Mark Gleghorne (East Grinstead) [Forward]
International Super Series Hockey 9s Results, November 22-25, Perth (AUS)
Thursday 22 November
UK Time Teams Result
11:20 Australia v Pakistan 4-2
12:15 England v India 2-1
Friday 23 November
11:20 Pakistan v England 2-4
12:15 Australia v India 4-3
International Super Series Hockey 9s Standings after first matches
Australia 6 pts
England 6 pts
India 0 pts
Pakistan 0 pts