The final pool game for Wales’ men at the Commonwealth Games will go down as a classic encounter after they narrowly lost out 3 – 2 to England in dramatic fashion on the Gold Coast.
With a game that had it all, Wales can be proud of the performance they put in against a team ranked 17 places above them in the world rankings after controlling large periods and leading by 2 goals to nil at half time.
A lively opening quarter in front of a packed Gold Coast hockey stadium saw both sides create chances, however neither side could find an opening as the first period came to a close. With the second period following in the same vein, it was Wales who broke the deadlock to the delight of the crowd with a goal worthy of the biggest stage. Defender Ioan Wall slid the ball through the circle at pace and captain Luke Hawker opened his account at the tournament with a deft finish.
With Wales on the front foot, the pressure on England told when Ben Francis scored Wales’ second just before half time following a slick penalty corner that sent the crowd into overdrive as they sensed a Welsh upset.
The second half started at a frantic pace with both sides creating chances, however it was England who struck in the third quarter through forward Sam Ward who got the slightest of touches to halve the deficit. The final period was a tense fifteen minutes and England drew the game level through a Sam Ward penalty corner. With the game in the balance England struck a decisive blow when Ward completed his hat trick to give them the win.
At the final whistle the stadium stood to acknowledge the performance from both sides and although disappointed, Wales could be proud of the inspirational performance they delivered.
Comments from Zak Jones:
Once again, I am immensely proud of the performance. The belief, effort and intent we showed throughout the contest was exceptional. We were outstanding in the first half and were very clinical with our opportunities, which is a huge positive. However, England pressed us hard in the second half and our inexperience at this level probably showed. We didn’t cope with it as well as we would have liked and didn’t handle the ball well enough, which ultimately put our defence under too much pressure. Despite the obvious disappointment, the group remain very upbeat and positive and will take the valuable learning they have gained throughout the tournament into their final fixture in two days time.