Brennan wrongfoots England

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The Independent Online
ENGLISH HOCKEY had a day of mixed fortunes at the Commonwealth Games here yesterday, with the women's team beating India 2-0 to go through to today's final against Australia, who beat New Zealand 7-3. But in the men's competition a golden goal in extra time from Michael Brennan gave Australia a 3-2 win against England.

Australia play in the final today against Malaysia, the hosts, who beat India 1-0 with a goal from Mirnawaran Nawawi after six and a half minutes of extra time in front of their King and Prime Minister. England play India for the bronze medal.

England's men made a very tentative start in which they weathered a strong Australian assault, with a string of excellent saves from David Luckes and resolute defending from Jon Wyatt and Bill Waugh, before Ben Sharpe set up a series of chances with some electrifying runs down the right wing. But Bobby Crutchley and Mark Pearn were unable to take advantage of the crosses to open the scoring.

Russell Garcia engineered England's first and only penalty corner of the first half when, with nowhere to go following a Justin Pidcock free hit, he put the ball on to Jay Stacy's foot. Garcia's penalty corner drag was just inches wide.

In the second half, the battle swung from end to end until, after 22 minutes, Wyatt gave England the lead at their second penalty corner. But within a couple of minutes Australia bounced back. Michael York, their captain, broke out of defence, got behind England's back line and set up the goal for Matthew Smith.

England again took the lead through Garcia at another corner in the 63rd minute but, with just two minutes left, Jeremy Hiskins caught England's defence in a muddle for the equaliser to force extra time.

Inside the second minute, Australia's Michael Brennan stormed into the circle to cash in on an England defensive mistake. His shot off the wrong foot was deflected past Luckes off the stick of Brett Garrard.

England may not have broken the Australian jinx - they have not beaten the old enemy since winning 2-0 in Melbourne in 1985 - but can stand tall after yesterday's game.

Trevor Walsh, Australia's coach, said: "That was a high-class match. We have experience defects at this stage."

Barry Dancer, his England counterpart, was delighted with the team's performance in defeat, saying: "We were tentative at the start, then played some good hockey. We are now serving notice to the top four in world hockey."

In the women's competition, a goal from Slough's Jane Smith at a penalty corner four minutes into the game set England on their way to the final. A flowing move early after the interval, started by Smith inside her own half, then carried on by Tina Cullen and Mandy Nicholson, was slotted home by Cullen to give England breathing space.

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