Hockey: Wasteful Wales

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The Independent Online
WALES, who showed commendable spirit and fight to draw their opening game in the BMW European Junior Cup, 4-4 against Spain on Sunday, lost their way here and could do no more than draw 1-1 with a crude Czechoslovak side and have probably thrown away a golden chance of reaching the semi-finals for the first time.

In a match marred by over-zealous umpiring Wales were off to a dream start with a well-taken goal three minutes into the game. Having survived an initial Czechoslovak onslaught from the whistle, Richard Markham was fouled wide on the left. A quickly taken free-hit from Daniel Geach was deflected high into the roof of the net by Olton's Justin Thorpe. Just the start Wales wanted as they set forth to win not only both points but ensure a good goal difference.

For a few minutes Wales pounded away relentlessly at the Czechoslovak goal until, in the 12th minute, a clash between Zac Jones and a Czechoslovak defender saw both players temporarily suspended and Jones requiring three stitches to an eye injury.

The departure of Jones and the need to pull Markham back into defence signalled the real end of Welsh dominance. A harsh penalty-stroke decision against Sean Storey after the Welsh defence had been caught in a tangle saw Ben Davies diving to make a useful save from the outstanding Czechoslovak captain, Rostislav Repcik.

Wales, having squandered a couple of penalty corners early in the second half, began to live dangerously, over-committing themselves on the break. Having survived a period with their captain Graham Dicken suspended, it was Dicken who should have settled the game. As it was, after a great move between Markham and Thorpe, Dicken blasted wide when well placed.

The equalising goal came 19 minutes into the second half. With the Welsh defence in another tangle and goalkeeper Davies stranded on the edge of the circle, Roman Marik lobbed into an empty net.

WALES: B Davies (Bournville); R Jones (Cardiff), Z Jones (Llan & Llan), J Willicombe (Llan & Llan), D Geach (Surbiton), W Abdo (Cardiff), O Jones (Stourport), G Dicken (capt, (Warrington), W Williams (Old Loughtonians), J Thorpe (Olton & West Warwick), R Markham (Oxford University). Substitutes used: S Storey (Warrington); M James (Warrington), H Savage (Cardiff).

CZECHOSLOVAKIA: F Babicky; M Hubata, J Lavicka, M Bradac, L Hlina, R Marik, R Repcik (capt), J Dasek, P Novak, P Martinec, M Kindl. Substitutes used: P Simon, P Halama, J Kuchar.

Umpires: P Elders (Neth) & M Bircher (Swit).