Hockey: Grand opening marked in style

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The Independent Online
Hockey

BILL COLWILL

reports from Milton Keynes

England 3 India 4

The large crowd at the international opening of the Milton Keynes National Stadium yesterday were entertained to a thrilling game of attacking hockey.

England snatched the initiative after the many times Olympic champions had built up a 3-0 interval lead in a storming display of high skill hockey.

India took the lead through Mukesh Kumar in the ninth minute. Sanjeev Kumar, following up after David Luckes had blocked Dhanraj Pillay's first shot.

After England had failed from a couple of penalty corner attempts, two goals inside a minute might have knocked the stuffing out of a less resilient side. First Kumar latched on to a long clearance from Pargat Singh for the second goal in the 19th minute, and then Pillay got the third.

A spectacular and spirited England fightback after the interval saw Chris Mayer nipping in behind the Indian defence to score from Kalbir Takher's pass. England, with the 18-year-old Mark Pearn causing all sorts of problems to the Indian defence, won a penalty stroke which Nick Thompson converted with ease before Ben Sharpe got the equaliser following a Pearn-Mayer move down the right.

Not satisfied with the equaliser, England threw everything into the attack leaving themselves wide open for the counter-attack on the break which came with 11 minutes remaining as Pillay collected his second goal of the game.

ENGLAND: D Luckes; J Wyatt, J Halls, G Fordham, Kalbir Takher, Soma Singh, B Sharpe, J Shaw (capt), D Hall, N Thompson, M Pearn. Substitutes used: C Giles, C Mayer, S Mason, H Hoskin.

INDIA: Vanda Subbiah; Pargat Singh, Anil Aldrin, Harpreet Singh, Riaz Mohammed, Ramandeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Baljit Saini, Dhanraj Pillay, Sanjeev Kumar, Gavin Ferreira. Substitutes used: Baljit Dhillon, Sandeep Somesh, Baljit Dhillon.

Umpires: J Gorissen, P Elders (Netherlands).

England's women showed impressive midfield form but woeful finishing when beating France 2-0. The goals came in the opening 19 minutes from Sally Gibson and Jackie Crook (penalty).

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