Hockey: Late show by Garcia seals England victory

England 3 Argentina 2
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The Independent Online
By Bill Colwill

England 3

Argentina 2

ENGLAND SNATCHED victory from the jaws of defeat at Bisham Abbey yesterday in the first game of their three-Test series against Argentina with two goals in the 69th minute.

After a bright opening five minutes, England allowed Argentina to dictate the game for long periods and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 15th minute. Juan Hourquebie, finding himself unmarked, scored from Pablo Lombi's free hit.

As England struggled to get back into the game they wasted three penalty corners before Ben Sharpe scored the first of his two goals in the 29th minute.

Argentina, who had arrived in England straight from an undefeated European tour including a 4-1 victory over the Dutch World and Olympic champions, stormed into the England defence after the interval with Jimmi Lewis making a brilliant point-blank save from Maximiliano Caldas. Within seconds Caldas has broken through again to restore Argentina's lead.

England quickly returned to the attack, with Sharpe and Mark Pearn making inroads into the Argentina defence without beating the goalkeeper, Mariano Ronconi, who made a string of brave saves, in particular from Sharpe and Stuart Head.

The break for England came in the 69th minute, Russell Garcia scoring on the slip at a penalty corner for the equaliser. Within 11 seconds England were leading. Garcia from the restart burst through to provide Sharpe with his second goal of the game.

The England coach, Barry Dancer, was pleased with the final result but disappointed in England's first-half performance. He said: "Argentina came here with good form behind them and gave us a good testing game. Three games like this one in three days should really top off our Commonwealth Games preparations."

The teams meet again today at Bisham Abbey at 3pm.

ENGLAND: J Lewis (Cannock); B Garrard (Teddington), J Wyatt (Reading), B Waugh (Southgate, capt), G Fordham (Hounslow); R Garcia (Harvestehuder, Hamburg), J Pidcock (Cannock), J Wallis (Teddington); B Sharpe (Cannock), M Pearn (Reading), S Head (East Grinstead). Substitutes used: D Hall (Guildford), D Woods (Southgate), M Johnson (Cannock).

ARGENTINA: M Ronconi; A Castelli, C Retegui (capt), M Pellegrino, G Orozco; T MacCormik, M Caldas, D Chiodo; F Moresi, P Lombi, S Capurro. Substitutes used: J Hourquebie, L Melgareso.

Umpires: E Saladino (Argentina) and S Brooks (England).