WALES MEN TAKE WORLD NO.6 INDIA TO THE WIRE IN THRILLER!
In what can only be described as an electrifying game of hockey, Wales continually asked questions of the world No.6 in the World, India today; displaying relentless energy and determination in putting the higher ranked team well and truly through their paces!
After a lively first quarter, where both teams created openings, it was India who opened the scoring with a well taken goal just a minute into the second period but just a few minutes later Wales’ Gareth Furlong levelled the scores from Wales’s second penalty corner! However, three minutes before the end of the half India took the lead once more following an umpire referral.
At the start of the second half Wales continued to build on the strong foundations they’d created during the first half and with just a minute to go in the third quarter Gareth Furlong further strengthened those foundations, firing home his second goal of the game from another penalty corner.
During a frantic fourth quarter, Wales’ Steve Kelly, who’d been a key figure throughout the game, took a painful blow to the face from an Indian stick which removed him temporarily from the game. With the match finely balanced, India looked to have won the encounter when they rifled home a penalty corner with five minutes of the match remaining. Yet, Wales responded brilliantly and were back on level terms just two minutes later. Gareth furlong firing home another penalty corner for his hattrick to take the score line to 3-3. However, the drama wasn’t over. A controversial decision against Wales’ Rhys Gowman led to penalty corners for India with just 90 seconds remaining. Despite James Fortnam making the initial save India finished smartly on the rebound to take the lead once again. Wales removed their goalkeeper for the last minute in a final attempt to take something from the match but could not quite find a way through the Indian defence with this incredible match ending in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss.
Reflecting on the game, Head Coach, Zak Jones…
I am absolutely gutted for the guys that they didn’t quite get the result they probably deserved but I am also incredibly proud of them and the performance. It is a privilege to be involved with such a special group of men and it was a pretty emotional moment watching the squad receive a standing ovation from the whole crowd at the end. To a man, they were outstanding in every aspect. They delivered our game plan under the most extreme pressure and showed immense character, belief and resilience to keep fighting until the very end. We probably rode our luck at times, and had a couple of tight calls that didn’t go our way but in the end India showed why they are one of the best teams in the world. We are a relatively inexperienced squad especially at this level but we are improving and learning with every match we play and the challenge for the group now is to continue to move forward and to back this performance up with another good one against England in a couple of days time.
Wales play England in their final pool match on Tuesday 10th April @05:30 (BST) – Watch them live via BBC Sport or BBC Sport Wales!