Hockey con­tin­gent have plenty to feel proud about

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - -

Kent’s hockey play­ers helped Eng­land fin­ish Glas­gow 2014 on a high with vic­tory in the bronze play-off against New Zealand on Sun­day morn­ing.

Af­ter los­ing 4-1 in Satur­day’s semi­fi­nal against Aus­tralia – who beat In­dia 4-0 to claim gold – an Eng­land side fea­tur­ing Chatham-born for­mer Sut­ton Va­lence School pupil Ash­ley Jackson and Hol­combe HC con­tin­gent Barry Mid­dle­ton, Ge­orge Pin­ner, Iain Lew­ers, Dan Fox and Nick Catlin, faced the Black Sticks in the bronze medal play-off at Glas­gow Green.

In a dra­matic game, Eng­land were twice in­debted to Jackson for stun­ning penalty cor­ner con­ver­sions. How­ever, de­spite Eng­land com­ing from be­hind to lead 3-2 with eight min­utes left, the Black Sticks drew level, forc­ing a penalty shoot-out.

Holcs stop­per Pin­ner was the hero with one save and forc­ing another shooter to drill wide, while Jackson, Catlin and Mid­dle­ton con­verted their shuf­fles.

With Eng­land 3-2 ahead, Si­mon Man­tell stepped up to try and win it, although he was fouled by the NZ keeper, re­ceiv­ing a penalty stroke which hit-man Jackson dis­patched into the top cor­ner.

Mid­dle­ton said: “I’m not go­ing to wipe the smile off my face for a lit­tle while. We wanted to be in the fi­nal but it doesn’t take any­thing away from leav­ing here with a Com­mon­wealth medal.

“Af­ter the semi-fi­nal, we said no-one in the room had a Com­mon­wealth bronze medal so we shouldn’t de­mean the bronze medal game. I was wrong be­cause (coach) Bobby Crutch­ley has got one and now we’ve got one to match.

“We’re go­ing to en­joy this now but then we need to re­mem­ber what got us there – we must go fur­ther. This is a good group of play­ers and since Lon­don, we’ve im­proved at ev­ery tour­na­ment we’ve played.

“This will keep me play­ing for a long time be­cause I be­lieve in this group and think we can go and win things.”

Eng­land’s women – another side full of Kent tal­ent – had mixed emo­tions af­ter com­ing just 11 sec­onds from gold in their fi­nal against Aus­tralia.

Lily Owsley gave Eng­land a sec­ond­half lead which they held un­til Hol­combe keeper Mad­die Hinch was beaten from a last-gasp penalty cor­ner.

The match went to penalty shuf­fles and although Hinch pulled off a fine save from one ef­fort, the Hock­ey­roos ran out 3-1 win­ners.

The squad also in­cluded Eger­ton’s Su­san­nah Townsend of Can­ter­bury HC and Hinch’s Hol­combe team-mates Lucy Wood, Laura Unsworth, Sam Quek and Ni­cola White.

South Africa’s women suf­fered a 5-2 de­feat against the Black Sticks in the bronze match, with Can­ter­bury’s Dirkie Cham­ber­lain and Shel­ley Rus­sell, of Hol­combe, in ac­tion.

Can­ter­bury duo Nikki Kidd and Nikki Lloyd helped Scot­land to sixth, with Kidd net­ting in Fri­day’s 2-1 de­feat to In­dia while club­mates Kwan Browne and Mickel Pierre were in the Trinidad & Tobago side which fin­ished 10th.

Pic­tures: Ady Kerry/Eng­land Hockey

Eng­land’s ladies won sil­ver, left, and, above, Ash­ley Jackson cel­e­brates win­ning bronze

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