HOCKEY: Painful exit for gallant Ashcroft

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The Independent Online
CHRIS ASHCROFT, the Welsh goalkeeper, plans to end his long, distinguished career at the end of the European Nations Cup here; yesterday he was in outstanding form in the match against Spain. But, even so, the World and Olympic silver medalists put five past him as they eventually overcame stout Welsh resistance to win with only one goal in reply.

Although Wales held out until 14 seconds before the interval, they were eventually outplayed, their consolation goal coming from David Hacker at a 63rd-minute penalty corner. Ashcroft and his defence fought courageously before tiredness took over.

England were in action on Saturday when they stayed on course for a place in the semi-finals when they won their third successive game, beating Ireland 3-0. Today they play Poland, who have yet to score a point, and by this evening should have confirmed their place.

Against the Irish, Jon Wyatt, picked up a rebound after the goalkeeper Nigel Henderson saved a Russell Garcia penalty corner shot to put England ahead in the fourth minute. But, despite completely dominating the play, their finishing let them down and England failed to increase their lead before the interval.

It took just two minutes into the second half for them to go further ahead when Stuart Head got the faintest of touches to a long ball into the circle after good work from Brett Garrard down the right. Then, with 10 minutes remaining, Tom Bertram slammed the ball home at a penalty corner to make the final scoreline look more respectable.

Their coach, Barry Dancer, was pleased with the complete midfield dominance, but expressed his disappointment that England were unable to convert midfield possession into a significant number of goals.

EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP (Padua; Saturday) Pool A: Ireland 0 England 3; France 5 Poland 4; Netherlands 6 Russia 1.

P W D L F A Pts

Netherlands 3 3 0 0 15 2 9

England 3 3 0 0 14 2 9

France 3 2 0 1 9 10 6

Russia 3 1 0 2 6 16 3

Poland 3 0 0 3 8 13 0

Ireland 3 0 0 3 2 11 0

(Yesterday) Pool B: Germany 5 Switzerland 2; Italy 2 Belgium 3; Spain 5 Wales 1.

P W D L F A Pts

Belgium 3 3 0 0 9 5 9

Germany 3 2 1 0 11 2 7

Spain 3 1 1 1 8 6 4

Switzerland 3 1 1 1 6 8 4

Wales 3 1 1 1 3 8 1

Italy 3 0 0 3 3 11 0

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