After a 1 hour weather delay and with the temperature being slightly cooler than in the warm up matches, Wales started brightly against world number 10, Canada. Handling the ball well, Wales controlled much of the early stages. Canada posed a threat, but the Welsh defensive structure and some diligent individual defence kept Canada at bay.
With Wales second penalty corner of the match, James Carson fired low to give Wales a deserved lead. Soon into the second half Wales doubles their advantage. After a quick counter attack, the ball broke lose in the circle giving Luke Hawker the opportunity to propel the ball home, with an instinctive improvised finish on the backhand.
At 2-0 Wales were looking good, but then some ill discipline gave Canada the opportunity to gain some momentum. After Draper had seen green, Gooch received a yellow card and minutes after his dismissal Canada took advantage.
With the game now in at 2-1, Wales wrestled back control of the game and limited Canada to few opportunities. Unfortunately, in quick succession, Wales lost both Kyriakides and Shipperley, with blows to the knee and hand respectively. This could have unsettled Wales, but they managed the game well, with players slotting in to cover the injured positions.
With the game entering the final stages, Wales once again saw yellow, this time Dolan-Gray. However, rather than that giving Canada the next opportunity to draw level, Wales broke through into the Canada circle and we’re awarded a penalty corner. This time it was Naughalty who stepped up to the mark and seal the win with 3 minutes to go.
Gareth Furlong was awarded the man of the match. Which was a fitting tribute to the man playing his 100th match in a Welsh shirt.
Head coach, Zak Jones described the performance as one of the best he’s seen from a Wales senior men’s team.
‘I’ve been involved for many years in Welsh hockey, and that was one of the best performances I’ve seen. To beat a top 10 ranked nation is a great achievement.’
Wales attention now turns to Belarus, who went down 5-0 to Austria in the first match of the tournament. But Wales know they must focus and prepare for a tough game, in what will surely be hot and humid conditions again in the Bukit Jalil stadium.
Tomorrows game vs Belarus is 1:05pm (BST).