Wales stun Ireland, England finish fifth, Scotland relegated

Wales Stun Ireland At #EHC2019
Wales stun Ireland, England finish fifth, Scotland relegated

Wales produced a stunning performance to beat Ireland 4-0 and retain their place in the EuroHockey Championships for 2021.

Knowing they needed to win by at least two clear goals to avoid finishing in the bottom two, they thrashed Ireland 4-0 with Gareth Furlong (2), Dale Hutchinson and Ben Francis all scoring.

England’s men also confirmed their place earlier in the day with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Scotland as Sam Ward scored a double and Ashley Jackson fired in a corner.

That meant they were guaranteed to finish fifth no matter what the result in the Wales game, while it left Scotland peering over their shoulders.

The Blue Sticks would have been hoping for a draw between Ireland and Wales to secure their status but such a heavy victory for the Welsh meant it was Derek Forsyth’s team who were relegated on goal difference, with Ireland propping up the table.

England 3 (3)
Ward (15’, PC; 29’, PC), Jackson (27’, PC)

Scotland 0 (0)

With these two teams beating Ireland and Wales respectively two days before, both knew a draw in this match would have been enough to cement their top flight statuses.

But England had other ideas and began this game on fire, with Tommy Alexander forced into a double save in the first minute.

There was no stopping Ward just 11 seconds from the end of the first quarter though as he controlled a brilliant pass from Ian Sloan before turning and firing into the net.

A yellow card for Tim Atkins then saw Scotland concede twice while reduced to 10 players in the second quarter as Jackson fired a corner into the top corner before Ward snuck another past Alexander.

England had further chances to extend their lead in the second half but couldn’t find their way past Alexander or his defenders as Scotland held firm.

They then had three corners of their own in the final moments but Harry Gibson stood tall to secure the clean sheet.

Ireland 0 (0)

Wales 4 (2)
G. Furlong (4’, PC; 20’, PC), Hutchinson (39’, FG), Francis (51’, FG)

Following the earlier result, Wales knew they had to win by at least two clear goals in order to cement their place in the top tier for a second consecutive year for the first time this century.

However they were faced with an Ireland side ranked 14 places above them in the world rankings that hadn’t lost to Wales for more than five years.

None of that mattered to Furlong though as he produced two stunning corners in the first half to give his side a clear advantage at half-time, with Ieuan Tranter also on fine form in the Welsh goal.

They knew though that one Irish goal could quickly turn the tables so went on the attack in the third quarter and scored another thanks to a fine solo effort from Hutchinson.

Ireland then took off their ‘keeper at the start of the third quarter in a desperate attempt to salvage something but it backfired as Francis did well to control an aerial before racing into the circle and firing into the empty goal.

Those results mean England and Wales will head to The Netherlands for the next instalment of the EuroHockey Championships in 2021, while Scotland will line up in the EuroHockey Championships II.