Report on England Great Grandmaster’s
England 4 v. Scotland 1
Opening their 2007 campaign against the Scots, England were intent on stamping their authority on this game from the first whistle and the Scots were soon on the defensive as the England attack increased the pressure. With 5 minutes gone, England moved into the lead when a sweeping move down the right, involving George Hazell , Gerald Wilkinson and John Seear, was finished with John Seear’s cross being turned into goal as Bill Warrender got in front of his marker. This early goal was just what the England team required and they moved further ahead when a well executed penalty corner was finished by Bill Warrender. With Alan Jackson and David Wright well in control of the midfield and the Scots struggling to get into the England half, another quick break down the right by Gerald Wilkinson was finished with a cross in front of goal, well put away by Dominic Bann.
With a 3-0 half time deficit, the Scots endeavoured to regroup and came out for the second half with renewed vigour. Building from midfield they threatened the England goal for the first time and were rewarded when the defence failed to clear and the ball was tucked into goal past an unsighted Mike Fripp. With England struggling to recapture the fluency of the first half , the Scots were more in the game, but England were able to restore the 3 goal advantage when Brian Tubb converted a penalty stroke. England continued to press until the final whistle but had to settle for a 4-1 victory.
England 1 v. Netherlands 0
Picking up immediately from where they had left off against the Scots, England moved purposely, again seeking an early goal to enable them to settle. With Brian Tubb and Percy Steele prompting and Peter Ross making penetrating runs down the left wing the Dutch defence had to work overtime and were fortunate on several occasions when deflected crosses were inches wide of the post. As the game developed, Leon Mack and George Hazell were able to snuff out any threat and the England forwards enjoyed an abundance of ball but were unable to capitalise.
With honours even at half time the second period began with the Dutch still penned in their own half and England desperate for a goal. The deadlock was finally broken on 43 minutes when a well worked penalty corner routine was finished off, Peter Ross scoring from a David Wright shot to the right hand post. With nothing to lose, the Dutch raised their game and Mike Fripp was at last called upon to make a clearance. But the Dutch rally was shortlived and the final whistle came with England once again on the attack.
Germany 0 v. England 1
With a superior goal difference, the Germans knew that to win the competition, all they needed from this game was a draw. England, on the other hand would concede the Cup that they had held since 2005 unless they could secure a win. With Percy Steele injured, Nigel Strofton came in at right half. The game began with England moving the ball around and getting into their stride before putting pressure on the German defence. With the English midfield again in commanding form, the Germans found themselves dispossessed whenever they approached the England 25 yard line and Mike Fripp again found himself a spectator. With superior possession, the English forwards were proving a handful for the German defence but resolute defending limited the goalscoring opportunities and the half time score remained 0-0.
Renewing their search for the all important goal, England stepped up then tempo and the Germans were finally undone when a loose ball in the German circle was pushed goalwards by John Seear and entered the net by way of a German foot. With England now in the driving seat, the Germans were forced to attack. An injury to Brian Tubb forced a change to the England line-up, John Seear dropping back to right half and Keith Hedley coming into the attack on the right wing. England then had a second goal disallowed as Keith Hedley was adjudged to have been outside the circle when his stick touched the ball! More controversy followed when the Germans got the ball into the English net but only after the Umpire had blown for a penalty corner. With the Germans now desperate for an equaliser, the pressure was on the England defence but the final whistle came with the England goal still intact.
This was the third successive European Championship for the Great Grandmasters who now remain unbeaten since taking the Silver Medal in the Athens World Cup competition in 2004!
England Squad: M. Fripp; G. Hazell; L. Mack; B. Tubb; P. Steele; D. Wright(Capt.); A. Jackson; W. Warrender; G.Wilkinson; P. Ross; J. Seear; K. Hedley; N. Strofton; D. Bann.
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