Bhubaneswar: A higher ranked England were held to a 2-2 draw by a stubborn China in a keenly-contested Pool B encounter of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here Friday.
The World No.17 were an unknown entity and they gave the World No.7 England a good run for their money. Forcing an exciting drawn match in the last moment debutants China won many hearts. They will certainly hold their head high and take lots of positives from this match for the rest of the tournament. Du Talake of China was adjudged man of the match for his aggressive hockey.
As expected England started aggressively against the underdogs China and put them under huge pressure. But China were more opportunistic as they struck in the very first chance they got in the fifth minute. The debutants opened their account through Guo Xiapoing to turn the hit on England.
Put under tremendous pressure England counter attacked and came closer to strike several times, but couldn’t found the space against the agile Chinese defenders.
However, their persistent effort yielded result soon when they got the first penalty corner of the match in the 14th minute. Mark Gleghorne made no mistake to restore parity for the English side. The exciting first quarter ended 1-1 to the amusement of fully packed Kalinga Stadium.
China walked their way into a penalty corner in the 18th minute. But an acrobatic English custodian Hary Gibson saved all of their three attempts. England retaliated quickly to earn their second penalty corner just after three minutes, but failed to capitalise.
Rest of the quarter belonged to China, but England defenders restricted them well. The keenly-contested first half was tied at 1-1.
After the change of ends both the teams tried their best to break the deadlock. In the process England got their third penalty corner in the 33rd minute, but Chinese goalkeeper Wang Caiyu foiled their attempt.
Bary Middleton missed a scoring chance quickly after it. They continued with the surge, but David Condon again faltered on a scoring chance. The third quarter was mainly a contest between England’s attack and China’s defence. But both were equal to the task hardly giving any chance tp the other to progress resulting a barren third quarter.
The fourth quarter was crucial and the World No.7 England responded brilliantly as Liam Ansell doubled their lead in the 48th minute through a lighting hit from the left flank.
China got a golden chance in form of a penalty corner in the last minute of the match. Talake grabbed the chance in both the hands to draw level.