England put on a spectacular show in front of their home fans to thrash Malaysia 7-3 today in Day 3 of the HERO Hockey World League Semi-finals Pool A match-up at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London.
With less than 24 hours of rest after their opener against Argentina yesterday, the 4.00 p.m. summer heat simply made things worse for the Malaysian squad as they started the match sluggishly and conceded two early goals.
Barry Middleton first slotted in after some fine wing play by Harry Martin in the 5th minute before Christopher Griffiths finished off some great interchange with his teammates to leave Malaysia’s goal unguarded three minutes later.
The two early goals served as a wakeup call for Stephen Van Huizen’s men as they mounted a comeback before halftime through Faizal Saari’s penalty stroke in the 19th minute and Tengku Tajuddin’s calm finish when the ball dropped in his direction after England’s goalkeeper parried it following a Malaysian penalty corner in the 28th minute.
It was all one way traffic for the World No.7 ranked team from the mid way point as they scored five without reply through their quick pressing and clinical finishing.
Sam Ward’s penalty corner restored England’s lead in the 32nd before Middleton unleashed a thunderous shot to beat Malaysia’s veteran goalkeeper, S.Kumar two minutes later for his second goal and England’s fourth of the match.
Mark Gleghorne then got in the act by bagging a brace (39’ PC and 55’ FG) on either side of Ward’s personal second of the day in the 51st minute.
Faizal Saari then smashed in a penalty corner into the roof of the net three minutes from time to restore some pride for The Speedy Tigers as the match was already beyond them.
“Yet another slow start but we played well to fight back once again and felt we could get a result until two quick goals killed our hopes in the 3rd quarter. We now will take stock of where we stand and use the rest of the day to prepare for two very important matches to stand a chance to advance”, said Stephen.
After two matches, Argentina (1st) and England (2nd) lead Pool A with 6 points each ahead of 3rd placed China who got their first win by surprising South Korea (4th) 5-2 earlier in Day 3 whilst Malaysia currently lie bottom of the table.
With the top four teams advancing and two matches remaining, Malaysia still has a chance to get a quarter final berth. They will next take on South Korea on Tuesday (20/6/2017, 1.00 a.m. Malaysian time) at the same venue as they continue their pursue for an automatic qualification spot for next year’s Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India.