Birmingham — As England raced through the gears, so the ‘home’ crowd bayed for just one Ghana goal. It was that kind of evening.
That they were only 6-0 down was down to Duisberg Offei, Ghana’s unemployed goalkeeper forced to flay his hands this way and that to stop a barrage of English shots as the post denied the crowd their wish late in the game.
Nick Bandurak did manage to surpass Offei with three clean, powerful flicks for a memorable Commonwealth Games debut in red.
The Holcombe hitman was aided by the strike of the night through Phil Roper’s reverse hit across goal, Will Calnan and David Condon, offered welcome respite after his Tokyo omission.
And so began England’s campaign for a first gold medal, in some style in the end ahead of a Welsh clash on Sunday.
It was, though, a staid atmosphere in comparison to the earlier games involving Wales and Scotland women, the match taking on the air of a training ground game in the early stages.
“It was the case of them having 10 players behind the ball and us trying to break them down for 60 minutes,” said Zach Wallace, leading England in his first game as captain.
“But a clean sheet, six goals and it’s a good base to start the tournament.
While Bandurak notched three from seven corner attempts, Roper was forced wide and shot on the reverse across goal, his shot fizzing high into the net. It was one to remember from a player more than capable from producing these offerings.
England had found their rhythm in the third quarter as Ghana began to tire. Calnan slotted home England’s fourth, followed by a succession of shots flashed across or wide of the Africans’ goal before Condon was visibly delighted at his strike. There were 41 shots in total that Offei had to be on guard for.
The biggest cheer of the night was saved in the final quarter when Ghana were awarded their first PC, the post denying the underdogs a welcome first. Nevertheless, come the final hooter the Ghananians walked the length of the grandstand and took in the cheers.
“The nature of the game was that we didn’t really know what to expect,” added Wallace.
England’s young captain did know that, in Bandurak and Ward, Paul Revington’s side have choice at the top of the castle.
“It’s incredible to have two top quality threats like that off the top,” added Wallace. “It makes it difficult for other teams to defend against when you have that variation. The more and more we have the better.”
England will face Wales on Sunday.