Commonwealth Games: England face battle to reach semi-finals

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND MEN'S semi-final chances are finely balanced after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Malaysia yesterday in their third pool match in the Commonwealth Games with themselves, Pakistan, their opponents tomorrow, Canada and Malaysia each on five points.

In an exciting game, which England dominated for long periods without being able to make their possession count, they opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Justin Pidcock bored his way through a packed defence to register his first international goal.

The packed stadium erupted just three minutes before the interval when Chairil Anuar Aziz surprised Simon Mason from a narrow angle. After Mason had saved well at a penalty corner, Mirnawan Nawawi pounced on the rebound to put Malaysia into the lead in the 45th minute. England were on terms within five minutes, John Wyatt converting a fortuitous penalty stroke to set up a grand-slam finish.

Barry Dancer, the disappointed England coach, said: "We did enough to win. We had enough clear-cut chances, particularly in the second half." Of the game against Pakistan, he added: "The fight is still on. It is in our own hands. We have just 24 hours to recover and face a different style of game. I am positive."

England women's third victory, 2-1 against Canada yesterday, put them in a strong position to reach the semi- finals, writes Jean Colwill. Only one hurdle remains: today's match against Wales.

Once again England were in the driving seat but, despite numerous scoring chances and nine penalty corners, the first half finished goalless.

Mandy Nicholson scored both second-half goals and was instrumental in winning many of the penalty corners. The first goal came 13 minutes after the interval following a cross by Jane Sixsmith.

Canada equalised with 11 minutes to go from their third penalty corner - England had six more without result.

With just four minutes to go Karen Brown gave a long pass which Nicholson, already in the circle, picked up awkwardly, managed to recover and beat the defender and then volleyed home.

Brown, the team captain, said: "Three points are more important than goals. Canada is always a bogey team and we could have fallen."