Ipswich hockey duo help England to fine start at Commonwealth Games

Ipswich and England's Harry Martin (right) and Liam Sandford celebrate their sides foutrth goal of t

Ipswich and England's Harry Martin (right) and Liam Sandford celebrate their sides foutrth goal of the match against Malaysia during the Men's Pool B match at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre during day two of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Ipswich’s George Pinner had the best seat in the house to watch his England side kick off their Commonwealth campaign in style – the goalkeeper barely having to lift a finger in the 7-0 romp past Malaysia.

Sam Ward and Mark Gleghorne both bagged doubles while another Ipswich player, Harry Martin grabbed the fifth after a fine team move in a victory that kicked off their Pool B campaign in fine fashion.

And co-captain Pinner – one of the remaining players from the squad that claimed bronze in Glasgow four years ago – could find little to criticise in his side’s showing.

“That was the perfect start for us really, and we played some really good hockey,” he said.

“The clean sheet is really important for us as a side I think. And the goals we scored were really good – that Harry Martin one at the end was a fantastic team goal.

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“We did a lot of good work both on and off the ball.”

It was a familiar story for England against these opponents after last month’s 7-2 shellacking in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

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England finished that tournament as runners-up to Australia – continuing their upward trajectory since the disappointment of Rio 2016.

After a European bronze last year, the side are gelling nicely and will be confident of getting out of their Pool that also includes Pakistan, Wales and India.

It is Pakistan up next on Sunday and Pinner knows that he and his team-mates must continue to work hard if they are to make the final for the first time since hockey joined the Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.

“The aim is obviously a medal but we have to take it one game at a time – that was a big game for us at the start of the tournament,” he added.

“This is the first multi-sport event for a lot of our team and that can bring the unknown but we came through it really well.

“Our biggest game is just the next one, but we want to come out this group and we want to come out in good shape to at least come away with a medal.”

The magnificent seventh goal was scored by veteran Barry Middleton – he of over 400 appearances for England and Great Britain combined.

npower is the Official Partner of Team England and is giving our athletes the power of support by recording a brand new version of their anthem, Jerusalem. To listen to the track visit npower.com/teamengland

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