Scotland’s Men’s 4 Nations campaign suffered a blow today after a 3-1 defeat by England at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. Despite an equalising goal from midfielder Chris Nelson shortly before half-time, field goals from Barry Middleton, Tom Carson and Simon Mantell ensured England left with the three points.
Reflecting on his side’s performance, Scotland Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “Defensively at times we were excellent, but when we’re playing teams at this level we need to keep the ball longer so we can control the game a bit more. Every time we defended well, we made life hard for ourselves by turning the ball over too quickly.
“We were right in it for the whole game, yet we only had one corner. If we’d scored that corner to make it 2-2 that changes everything. The second England shouldn’t have stood so the contest was a lot closer than the result suggests. That said, England are a good team about to head to the World Cup. Another great experience for the players and we move onto Monday against Argentina.”
Following a tight opening period with no significant chances for either side, it was Scotland who fashioned the first chance of the game. Nicky Parkes found space on the right flank and the Surbiton forward’s dangerous cross was met by Gareth Hall, whose dive and slender deflection went narrowly wide of the left hand post.
England retorted in the 17th minute, winning a penalty corner after good play from Barry Middleton. However, the Scottish defence was alert to the threat of Ashley Jackson, Kenny Bain getting a stick to the East Grinstead midfielder’s shot to ensure the ball was diverted over bar.
Three minutes later, Dan Fox threatened the home side’s goal, working a one-two pass with Simon Mantell, but his weak shot rolled past the far post.
Nevertheless, the visitors found the opening goal in the 22nd minute. Excellent wing play from Mantell enabled the Reading midfielder’s cross to find Middleton in space inside the circle, and the England captain made no mistake with a low drive past Scotland goalkeeper Jamie Cachia.
Cachia had to be on his toes shortly after, the Sheffield shot-stopper getting down low to repel Phil Roper’s effort.
Further frustration came for the home side in the 31st minute when Gary Cameron’s challenge on Middleton led to the award of a penalty stroke, but Jackson’s option to hit the stroke high proved ill-judged, the ball coming back off the crossbar.
England were left to rue the missed chance two minutes before the half-time interval, Kelburne midfielder Chris Nelson latching onto Dan Coultas’ hit into the circle to send the ball past English ‘keeper George Pinner.
Confusion then abound in the 43rd minute when it appeared that a foul had been committed during an England foray into the circle, but Tom Carson was credited with the away side’s second goal, restoring their advantage.
Cachia was again Scotland’s saviour midway through the second half, making a fantastic double save to deny Mark Gleghorne’s penalty corner strike and then Middleton’s follow-up from the resulting re-bound.
The home side had an opportunity to find a second equaliser in the 55th minute following the award of a penalty corner, but Coultas’ effort fizzed wide of the left hand post to the angst of the Scots.
Five minutes from time, England sealed victory following great skill by Jackson to find Mantell sliding in at the near post to make it 3-1.