England Grand Masters v Wales

on Sunday 27th July 2008 at Oxford Hawks 

England over 60’s 5  Wales 0

 This was an important game in the build up to Hong Kong and with the exception of John French, the whole squad was available. The match was played on one of the few hot days this summer and therefore gave some indication of what the conditions will be like in HK.

The game was very much one of two halves. In the first half England had most of the possession but had difficulty in creating good chances, and those that were created were not taken, including a penalty stroke. Wales played defensively with great spirit but apart from one breakaway opportunity which Kimber, in goal, dealt with, the England defence was not troubled. The score at half-time was therefore 0-0.

As was pointed out by the coach, Andy Barnes, England needed to be more controlled in the second half, with the emphasis on possession, movement off the ball, transfer of the ball around the pitch and raising of individual skill levels on what was a slightly bumpy pitch.

The second half saw a transformation. England took control against a tiring Welsh team. The linkage between defence, midfield and attack showed a marked improvement and possession was maintained even when direct routes to goal were blocked. The result was numerous goal scoring opportunities and short corners. The first goal was a typical Stowell deflection, followed by further goals from Hutchings, Wood, Surridge and Ballard – his first for England. The final result was a 5-0 win for England. Indeed if a higher proportion of chances had been taken the scoreline could have been more flattering.

On the downside England cannot afford to wait until the second half before starting to play to its potential. Also the short corner drill needs to be more clinical. There are two more games before HK to put this right.

There were however also many positives. The defence is very sound, the midfield is mobile with individuals comfortably switching positions and the teamwork in attack is improving. Also the team showed its ability to learn from the errors in the first half and to use its fitness to advantage.

Many thanks must go to Oxford Hawks for hosting this International and for the lunch provided after the game.

Team: Colin Kimber, Barry Mills, Peter Crayford, German Singh, Terry Howlett, Neil Major, Norman Ballard, Ray Jeff, Brian Perryman, John Maylam, Greg Hutchings, Mike Surridge, Lloyd Wood, Stephen Stowell (Capt), Imtiaz Mahmood-Sheikh.

Coach: Andy Barnes

Report: Brian Perryman