David Goodfield hits a last gasp winner for England, whilst Bandurak opens his scoring tally to give Zak Jones the perfect Pro-League start.
It wasn’t just the weather that shone brightly in Valencia for England’s men. The newcomers to the FIH Hockey Pro League defeated Spain for the second time, despite the home side playing a much more structured and attacking game.
A match-winning goal in the dying seconds of the second game between Spain and England men capped off a successful weekend for England interim Head Coach Zak Jones and his new-look England team.
In their first appearance in the FIH Hockey Pro League, the England team, which included six debutants, took all six points. Several England players will have competed for Great Britain in the Pro League, but this is the first time England has lined up to compete.
Spain didn’t really get out of first gear in the first match, and England cruised to a 6-1 victory. Spain’s Head Coach, Max Caldas, will have been relieved by the significant improvement in the second game, if not pleased with the scoreline, a 3-2 loss.
The men of Spain took to the field determined to improve on their performance the day before, when they were defeated 6-1 by an energetic England team.
The opening exchanges certainly reflected this determination. England will consider themselves fortunate not to be down a goal in the first quarter, as Spain ran through the midfield, creating numerous chances.
Despite the opportunities provided by Spain, England was the first to draw blood. Nick Bandurak was the quickest to react, firing a rebound home for his first international goal in only his second match for England. Spain appeared to have equalized with a penalty corner strike, but a fine mid-air save by Tom Sorsby kept the ball out of the net.
It was unavoidable that Spain’s pressure would pay off. It came from the stick of Alejandro Sanz, another player making his Pro League debut this weekend.
This meant that the scores were level at halftime, and both coaches were pleased, with Jones instructing his players to place a higher value on possession and Caldas instructing his players to gain competitive advantages.
England took the lead once more, with Duncan Scott continuing his excellent start to his international career and adding to his goal from the day before.
Into the fourth quarter, a rocket of a goal from Xavier Gispert, scored with a back-hand shot that whipped past Oliver Payne, tied the game up again.
The game appeared destined for a shoot-out until David Goodfield’s last-minute goal on his second appearance for England ensured his team would leave Valencia with six points.
‘It was really nice to win, it finishes our weekend nicely,’ said Player of the Match David Ames after the game. I’m overjoyed for the entire squad, but especially for the newcomers.
‘We played exceptionally well yesterday, and today we were a little scrappy, but we played until the end.’