Wales men gave it their all but ultimately lost 2 - 4 to England in their second pool match of the Commonwealth Games.
A tighter game than the score reflects, Wales made England work hard for the win in a thrilling match at the University of Birmingham with Welsh goals from Lewis Prosser and James Carson.
It was a nervy start for Wales as Sam Ward put England on the scoreboard in the first two minutes off the back of a penalty corner. Despite continued English pressure, Wales saw off three more penalty corners in the first quarter.
Wales came back fighting in the second quarter and were quickly rewarded with a penalty corner. A stunning reverse strike from Steve Kelly was deflected into the back of the net by Lewis Prosser, brining Wales level.
Soon after, Prosser received the first of three yellow cards for Wales, giving England their first numerical advantage.
Welsh goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill was made to work hard leading up to half time, saving two English shots from penalty corners. Kelly denied Ward his second goal of the game as he forced his shot over the bar.
It was Wales who got the last say of the first half as Luke Hawker forced a penalty corner in the 30th minute, but his resulting shot went wide.
Already an exciting game, the second half brought more thrills and physicality.
Welsh captain Rupert Shipperley missed a great opportunity as his shot was sent over the bar. Rhys Bradshaw made a good run towards the English goal, but Ben Francis couldn’t quite get to the end of his cross into the circle.
Two penalty corners for Wales followed but both attempts by Ioan Wall were blocked by the strong English defence.
A suspected stick tackle on England’s Phil Roper in the circle was challenged by Wales. The challenge was upheld as it proved Dale Hutchinson touched the ball before Roper’s stick, denying England a penalty stroke.
The last five minutes of the third quarter brought two yellow cards for Wales, one after the other, first for Shipperley and the second for Dan Kyriakides.
England quickly made use of their 2-man advantage as Nick Bandurak took the hosts back into the lead via a penalty corner.
Wales showed their spirit and determination as they fought hard with just nine players to stop England furthering their lead. Reynolds-Cotterill made two great saves at the end of the third quarter to keep Wales in the game.
Back up to 11 men, Wales made sure it wasn’t over as James Carson smashed the ball down into the English goal, brining the two home-nations level once again.
However, a good break by Roper delivered a third goal for England just a minute later.
As the nine-player period started to take it’s toll on the legs of the Welsh, England followed up with a second goal from Bandurak in the 57th minute.
Commenting on the game and three yellow cards for Wales, goal scorer Lewis Prosser said: "From our perspective it was quite frustrating. Because the umpires carded quite early, it was really hard – any kind of tackle then was going to be carded. I had a chat with the umpires at the end and said they shouldn’t have done it that early, even though it was England’s card to start with.”
"We went down to nine [players], which really didn’t help. We got through that period, but because we were running a lot in that period, our legs just started to go."
Reflecting on playing England, captain Shipperley said: "We went toe-to-toe with them for most of the game. Couple of [yellow] cards probably swung it. We always get close to them, we do owe them one, but it’ll just have to wait till another day."
"They’re a full-time outfit, everyone on our team has a nine-to-five job, so there’s disparity there. They’ve got a lot of good players. They’re a team that’s going to be looking at medalling at this tournament - they’re in the top 10 [in the world] for a reason."
Wales now have two days to recover from the physical contest and take on Ghana on Wednesday. This will be the first time the two nations have met in an official match.