Hockey: England in danger of taking wooden spoon

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The Independent Online

England'S Bitterly disappointing form in the Champions Challenge in Randburg, South Africa continued in their final pool game yesterday when they lost 4-0 to New Zealand to finish with just one win to their name, 2-0 against South Africa.

England need to win their play-off game against Malaysia tomorrow to avoid the wooden spoon. Their hopes will not be high in view of Malaysia's 4-1 victory in the pool game. Yesterday Malaysia lost 5-2 to South Korea, who will play Spain in the final with a place at stake in the 2004 Champions Trophy.

The New Zealand game was reminiscent of the last time the sides met, in Cannock two years ago, when England lost 5-1. Yesterday, after a brisk start, a steal by Ryan Archibald following casual English play sent Phillip Burrows away to open the scoring in the ninth minute.

Within two minutes Hayed Shaw had put New Zealand two ahead, giving Jimi Lewis no chance with a drag flick. Burrows scored a second after the interval and Bevan Hari sealed England's fate.

The only bright note was the non-stop running of Danny Hall. New Zealand's victory would have been sweet for their acting English coach, former Reading defender Charlie Oscroft, and captain Simon Towns, Reading's centre half.

England: J Lewis; J Collins, B Garrard; R Todd; J Peckett, C Parnham; B Middleton, M Pearn, J Wallis, G Fordham, D Hall. Substitutes: D Mathews, B Hawkes, M Johnson, J Goudie.

Results: England 0 New Zealand 4; Malaysia 2 South Korea 5.