By Richard Bright
Junior’s senior player Sergi Enrique’s ‘baby’ celebration was scuppered by Three Rock Rovers’ late strike as the Irish Euro Hockey League dream stayed alive in Barcelona.
Enrique looked to have sealed a crucial win for the Catalan side late on as he drilled home a penalty corner strike and then ran straight to what looked like his waiting family behind the goal.
But Three Rock Rovers had other ideas as Luke Madeley ruined the Spanish fans hopes with an equaliser with 70 seconds remaining to earn a 1-1 draw.
It means that the pressure is on Junior to run up a total of at least six goals on Sunday against already eliminated Racing Club de France if they are to have a chance of reaching the KO16 for the first time and end Irish hopes.
“It was a mad game,” Madeley said afterwards. “We were in it the whole way through and unfortunate to go 1-0 down but we kept fighting and it shows the character of the team to come back.
“It’s tough in the heat – we are not used to that back home – but we pushed hard and I guess we have to be happy with the draw. There’s nothing more we can do about it now.”
Meanwhile Mannheimer HC shook off the first half shackles as they hit full throttle in the second half to pull away from Dinamo Elektrostal and gallop to a 7-2 win.
Importantly, they moved ahead of Wimbledon’s goal difference, meaning they only need a draw on Sunday to go through ahead of their English rivals.
The two play on Sunday afternoon with the Londoners needing to win to secure their passage to the last 16.
Royal Leopold took a significant step toward qualifying as their set-piece machine put them on course for a 3-1 victory over WKS Grunwald Poznan.
HC Oranje-Rood broke down a strong defensive performance from Scotland’s Grange to win through 6-0.