Hockey World Cup 2018, Crossover 1: England vs New Zealand - 5 Talking Points
The first crossover match of the 2018 Hockey World Cup saw both New Zealand and England going all out against each other. The match was slow in the first quarter -- but high on tempo thereafter with both teams on the offensive.
Even though both the teams were pushing hard in the first quarter, none of them could really find any clear goal-scoring opportunities besides the one squandered opportunity by England from a Penalty Corner in the fourth minute.
The Black Sticks and England -- both -- were cautious and unwilling to take a lot of risks in the beginning.
David Condon, Barry Middleton, and Liam Ansell made a few darting runs down the middle but the final ball let the team down.
The penetration was good by the English players and they had a higher share of possession but neither of the teams were emphatic in their play.
New Zealand also maintained a strong defensive line to ensure England's attacks do not culminate in a goal. The Black Sticks, however, did not push forward as much as the George Pinner-led team.
Finally, England stepped it up a notch at the start of the 2nd quarter and looked like the more likely to find a breakthrough -- and that is exactly what transpired.
If we take a look at the statistics then they were quite evenly balanced. England made 26 circle entries while New Zealand had 19.
It was the Black Sticks who had the greater number of shots -- 11 -- compared to England's 8 but they lacked the precision. Credit for such a low conversion has to be given to both the goalkeepers as well as they made some fine saves.
Danny Kerry's boys won the match 2-0 and will go on to face Rio Olympics champions Argentina in the quarterfinal match.
They were undoubtedly the better team on the day and deserved to win. George Pinner's acrobatic celebration after the final hooter summed up the win beautifully and the Red outfits were all smiles.
It was not New Zealand's day and they would have to head back home.
Without further ado, let us dive into analyzing what were the five talking points of the match.
#5 Persistence pays off for England
There was a lot of tidiness in England's passing as they patiently got closer and closer to scoring. Whenever they lost the ball, the players showed the hunger to win it back and result in a turnover.
Calnan eventually found the breakthrough in the 25th minute with a fine assist from Phil Roper. Consistent pressing and perseverance finally paid off.
New Zealand was not aggressive initially but England showed that they mean business whenever they were in possession -- they always tried to work out something constructive.
Darren Smith's boys also got a penalty corner in the 27th minute but they made an absolute mess of it.
Nick Ross of New Zealand hit a powerful shot in the 27th minute itself but Pinner made a good save on the line and cleared the ball away safely. There were a few other Penalty Corner opportunities which both teams squandered.
England was deservedly ahead in the first half as they were brilliant in open play. They were also the team that was on the front foot in the third quarter and Luke Taylor doubled the lead in the 43rd minute.
Stephen Jenness had a wonderful opportunity in the 33rd minute but he fired wide. The 28-year-old, who is otherwise extremely reliable up front, misfired on many other occasions. It was just not his day when it mattered the most.
Deft passing and an iron will helped England's cause in the end.