Hockey: Ahmed crushes England hopes

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The Independent Online
IN A thrilling 12-goal exhibition of attacking hockey before a sell-out crowd, England finally succumbed 5-7 to the defending champions, Pakistan, in the World Cup in Utrecht yesterday.

But, despite the spectacle, it was a disappointing day for England in the World Cup, with the women having lost 2-4 to Argentina earlier in the day. Both teams can now effectively wave goodbye to any semi-final hopes they may have been harbouring.

Against Pakistan, England's men conceded a fourth-minute goal to Atif Bashir and were forced to chase the game from then on.

Two goals from Jon Wyatt midway through the second half did bring the score to 5-5 and a glimmer of hope for England, but as the team pressed forward in search of a winner, Pakistan took advantage of the space left by the England defence to plunder two late goals.

England suffered an early blow when their captain, Bill Waugh, limped off after suffering a hamstring injury, but with Russell Garcia playing superbly in midfield, England remained a threat.

Garcia levelled to make it 1-1, Calum Giles - usually a set-piece specialist - scored from open play with Mark Pearn getting a third before Wyatt's pair. But Pakistan always had the edge, with Shahbaz Ahmed, considered to be past his best now, brilliantly controlling the game and scoring a wonderful goal.

The England coach, Barry Dancer, said after the game: "We had some really good passages, but paid for failing to cope with their counter-attacks. We gave away too many penalty corners."

England's women took a fifth-minute lead through Purdy Miller, but two errors by Hilary Rose in goal at penalty corners allowed Maria Rognoni to put Argentina ahead at the break.

Jane Sixsmith pulled England level after the restart with help from Karen Brown, but Argentina were not to be denied, two late goals breaking England's resistance.

England: S Mason (Reading); B Garrard (Teddington), J Wyatt (Reading), J Halls (HDM The Hague), B Waugh (Southgate, capt); R Garcia (HDM The Hague), J Pidcock (Cannock), N Thompson (Old Loughtonians); B Sharpe (Cannock), M Pearn (Reading), J Lee (Old Loughtonians). Substitutes used: A Humphrey (Cannock), D Woods (Southgate), J Wallis (Teddington), C Giles (Southgate).

England Women: H Rose (Univ of Massachusetts); J Empson(Canterbury), K Brown (Slough), M Clewlow (Canterbury), J Mould (Leicester); K Bowden (Leicester, capt), L Wright (Olton), J Bimson ( Loughborough Students); J Sixsmith (Sutton Coldfield), P Miller (Leicester), J Smith (Slough). Substitutes used: S Blanks (Leicester), L Copeland (Slough), K Moore (Olton) F Greenham (Olton).