England and Scotland earn first wins of 2019 EuroHockey Championships, Wales in danger of relegation

Scotland Beat Wales At #EHC2019
England and Scotland’s men both secured their first wins of the 2019 EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp to ease fears of relegation.

The bottom two teams from each initial group have now entered Pool C to determine who finishes between fifth and eighth at the tournament, with the bottom two sides being relegated to the second tier for the 2021 event.

A 4-2 win over Wales now sees Scotland move onto four points – with their draw against Ireland being carried over – as they look to retain their place in the competition.

England’s men also find themselves on four points after a narrow 2-1 over Ireland, leaving their counterparts and the Welsh in the relegation spots with just one point each.

A draw with each other on Saturday would be enough for both England and Scotland to stay up, while Wales will be hoping one beats the other and they beat Ireland by a significant margin in order to stop themselves dropping back down to the EuroHockey Championships II.

Wales 2 (0)
Dolan-Gray (40’, FG), Prosser (60’, PC)

Scotland 4 (2)
Golden (2’, FG; 53’, FG), Falconer (12’, FG), Parkes (35’, FG)

In the second Home Nations derby of the tournament, it was Scotland who secured the crucial victory as they overcame Wales in a gripping game under sunny skies in Antwerp.

GB EDP star Cameron Golden gave the Blue Sticks the perfect start as he scored his first goal of the tournament in the second minute.

Craig Falconer then produced a sublime finish – his second of the event – to double Scotland’s lead in the 12th minute before Nicky Parkes made it three shortly after half-time.

Owain Dolan-Gray then pulled one back for Wales but with just seven minutes to go Golden produced some magic to score his second of the game with a wonderful solo effort.

Wales had the last say as Lewis Prosser scored from a corner in the final minute and they will be hoping to take that momentum into Saturday’s crucial final game against Ireland.

England 2 (2)
Wallace (11’, FG), Roper (12’, PC)

Ireland 1 (1)
Robson (21’, FG)

Having not made the semi-finals in this competition for the first time since 2007, England felt like they had a point to prove against an Irish side they beat 4-2 at the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup.

They made a fine start too as Zach Wallace and Phil Roper scored just a minute a part at the end of the first quarter – with Ashley Jackson playing a major part in both goals – to give them an early lead.

Ireland’s Michael Robson then beat George Pinner with a very deft finish in the 21st minute to set up an exciting second half.

Both teams had chances to score further but ultimately both defences proved too difficult to crack as they game became very physical, with plenty of bumps and scrapes.

England held on for victory though as they look to try and secure a fifth-placed finish.

They will do that with victory over Scotland at 12:30 BST on Saturday 24 August, while Wales will be hoping to pull off a major upset by beating Ireland at 14:45 BST that same day.

Both of those games will be available to watch live on BBC Sport’s digital platforms.