England lose first German test

Mortiz Furste 9,56 (PC,PC)                    
Matthias Witthaus 52 (F)                       
Martin Haner 65 (F)                  

James Tindall 6 (F)                   
Iain Mackay 7 (F)                      

Monchengladbach, Germany: It was the clichéd game of two halves  on Tuesday evening as England’s men sped into an early two goal lead against Germany only to be pegged back by the Olympic Champions before going down 4-2.

Surbiton forward James Tindall and Reading’s Iain Mackay had put the dominant European Champions 2-0 up inside seven minutes at the venue for the forthcoming EuroHockey Nations Championships.  But a reply from Moritz Furste narrowed the deficit before second half goals from Matthias Witthaus, Furste again and former East Grinstead star Martin Haner gave the Germans the win.

England named 16 of their 18 man European squad on the team sheet for the match, which was upgraded from practice match to full international.  Coming out of the blocks with incredible effect, England bossed the opening exchanges and it was Tindall’s quick thinking that gave them the lead in the sixth minute.  Having saved an initial effort, the German goalkeeper fell on top of the ball and the Germans hesitated, expecting a penalty corner to be awarded; seeing the opportunity, Tindall squeezed the ball out and round the goalkeeper before knocking it across the line from close range.

And Iain Mackay had England 2-0 up a minute later. A defence splitting pass from East Grinstead’s Mark Pearn was propelled right through the circle to the back post where Mackay snuck in to deflect home.

The lead was halved shortly after when Mortiz Furste scored from Germany’s first penalty corner, converting after a spin at the top of the circle.

Despite the goal, England retained their composure to dominate the first half, although they were grateful to Cannock’s James Fair in goal after he pulled off a superb diving safe low to his right midway through the half.

England failed to match their first half intensity when the teams restarted after the break.  Germany equalised through Matthias Witthaus in the 52nd minute and England fell behind for the first time in the match through Furste’s second corner in the 56th minute.

With England pushing for an equaliser late on, former East Grinstead man Martin Haner put the game beyond reach with a goal from a German counter attack five minutes from time. 

Afterwards, Team Manager Andy Halliday said: “It is a horrible cliché but it was a game of two halves.  We were utterly dominant in the first half but fell away in the second.”

England and Germany meet again on Thursday evening, 17:00 hrs BST, in the second and final match of the series.

England Squad v Germany : Started – James Fair (Cannock) Goalkeeper, Iain Lewers (Loughborough Students) Defender, Richard Mantell (Reading) Defender, Alastair Wilson (Beeston) Defender, Nick Catlin (Loughborough Students) Defender/Forward, Adam Dixon (Beeston) Defender/Midfielder, Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead) Midfielder, Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) Midfielder, Mark Pearn (East Grinstead) Forward, Iain Mackay (Reading) Midfielder, Barry Middleton (c) (Der Club An Der Alster) Midfielder/Forward, James Tindall (Surbiton Forward). Substitutes Used – Richard Alexander (Surbiton) Defender/Midfielder/Forward, Adam Dixon (Beeston), Defender/Midfielder, Richard Smith (Loughborough Students) Defender, Rob Moore (Wimbledon) Midfielder/Forward, Matt Daly (Surbiton) Forward.