Battling England draw with Argentina in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

England v India SAS 2018
Argentina 1 (0)
Gilardi (PS, 41)

England 1 (0)
Condon (PC, 56)

England kept their hopes of making the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup alive with a spirited draw against world number two outfit Argentina.

Argentina had plenty to thank goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi for as he produced a string of fine saves to keep out several England players, including a fantastic double to deny Liam Ansell and Harry Martin.

Indeed it took until the 56th minute for David Condon to eventually beat the 38-year-old and equalise after Juan Gilardi’s penalty stroke fifteen minutes before.

The result means Bobby Crutchley’s team lie fourth in the table on five points with one game left to play. 

Buoyed by victory over Ireland the day before, England began the game confidently and fashioned the game’s first chance as James Gall drew a smart save from Vivaldi down low to his left.

Two minutes later Ansell narrowly failed to get a stick on Barry Middleton’s bouncing cross before Vivaldi cut out Mark Gleghorne’s dangerous pass and saved Sam Ward’s shot at the start of the second quarter.

David Goodfield’s 26th minute effort flew over the crossbar via a deflection off Sam Ward’s face after Ollie Willars charged down Martin Paredes’ corner flick, the only real chance of note from the Olympic champions in the first half. 

Vivaldi was on hand again to deny England in the 35th minute, just getting to the ball ahead of Sam Ward on the goal-line after great work by Chris Griffiths before the South Americans took the lead through Gilardi’s superb stroke six minues later.

That came in contentious circumstances as a foul on the 23m line by Brendan Creed – for which he was given a green card – was upgraded to a corner on review, with Lucas Vila’s goalbound effort hitting an England foot on the line.

England almost hit back just moments later but yet again Vivaldi denied them, unfurling a brilliant double save to keep out a missile from Ansell and Martin’s subsequent effort on the rebound.

Martin then managed to find a way to beat Vivaldi in the 51st minute with an inch perfect cross but Goodfield could not quite get his stick on the ball as it hit his foot directly in front of the goal.

Condon then saw yet another shot saved in the 55th minute but seconds later he finally provided the equaliser England had been searching for, diverting Ansell’s corner into the goal.

George Pinner and his defenders then showed great resilience once again to keep out two Argentinean penalty corners in the dying moments to ensure their side came away with a well deserved point.

England’s final game is against Malaysia at 1230 GMT on Friday 9 March. 

England Starting XI: Gibson (GK), Martin, Sloan (C), Ward, Gleghorne, Dixon, Middleton, Creed, Condon, Gall, Sanford

Subs: Pinner (GK), Willars, Weir, Griffiths, Roper, Goodfield, Ansell
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