Sunday, December 3, 2023

Hockey Pro League: England double up with late win over Spain

England will return from Spain with six points from two Valencia victories and an interim coach who provided an assured interview for the job full-time in front of the TV cameras.

A 3-2 win – secured with nine seconds left of play when Dave Goodfield knocked in from close range – added to their 6-1 dismantling of Spain on Friday. In a Pro League which has lost some its lustre, England have mustered plenty of early polish of their own ahead of a mid-February trip to Argentina.

England always held the lead against Spain, the hosts having a lion’s share of possession and circle penetration with their width and creativity.

Still, England took the lead, with Nick Bandurak scoring his first international goal and Duncan Scott finding the net once again. Antonio Sanz and Xavier Gispert had both levelled for Spain – and while the Spanish rued missed chances, Ollie Payne again impressed in goal. Defender Sam Taylor also had an assured debut.

With the last passage of play, England won a late PC, with Goodfield latching on from a rebound to lift over goalkeeper Adrian Rafi.

“It was such an amazing feeling and one that I’ll never forget,” Bandurak said after scoring his first goal.

“The boys have all been incredible with settling in the debutants on this trip and to have them all there to celebrate with me, along with my wife and family on the side, was really special.

Duncan Scott has enjoyed his Valencia sojourn

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for us to test ourselves in a competitive environment and to come away with six points is a huge testament to the hard work that the group has put in together.

“The two games were very different so to show the capability to win in two very different styles of play is a promising building block for the rest of the competition.”

And rest of the year from these two showings.

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