Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wales take bronze on home turf

Wales 5 (Rick Gay 2, Rhys Joyce, Ben Edge, Ben Croxall) Czech Republic 2 (David Vacek, Jakub Kyndl)
Wales produced their best hockey of the tournament to emulate the feat of their female counterparts to upset the pre-tournament rankings to claim bronze at the EuroHockey Nation’s Trophy.

The home nation produced their most complete 70 minutes against the Czech Republic, winning 5-2 to equal their best performance in the competition since the tiered version of the competition was introduced.

After making much of the early running, Wales took the lead in the 21st minute when Ben Croxall sublimely deflected home at the near post from Andy Cornick’s right-wing cross.

And they had little time to wait for a second. It came in similar fashion; this time Rufus McNaught-Barrington cracked in the cross and Ben Edge redirected from five yards out.

But a near faultless half was ruined three minutes before the interval when no one reacted to George Harris’ save and David Vaeck swooped to chip into the net.

The two-goal advantage was restored in the 49th minute when Andy Cornick drew a penalty corner and Rick Gay dragged home low and left.

Joe Naughalty was sin-binned soon after for a rash tackle but his presence was scarcely missed as Gay was hacked down on the flick spot, giving Rhys Joyce his third penalty stroke opportunity.

He duly obliged in his favourite spot – the left side of the backboard – for 4-1. And Gay got his second of the day – and his side’s third in eight minutes – in the 57th minute with yet another drag-flick.

The Czechs pulled one back with an incredibly conceived corner of their own as Tomas Prochazka swivelled both clockwise then counter-clockwise to lay up Jakub Kyndl. He looped over Harris to make it 5-2.

Wales, though, held out three further corners to make sure the medal was in the bag.

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