England 3 (0)
Ward (FG, 38; PC, 48; FG 57)
Wales 2 (2)
Hawker (FG, 26); Francis (PC, 30)
England’s men qualified for the semi-finals of the 2018 Commonwealth Games thanks to Sam Ward’s hat-trick as they completed an impressive comeback against Wales.
Bobby Crutchley’s team had trailed 2-0 at half-time as Wales took the most of their chances in the first half, Luke Hawker and Ben Francis getting the goals.
But England really turned up the pressure in the second half, with Ward proving to be the hero as he produced two superb finishes to bring the score level.
With three minutes on the clock remaining the Beeston striker then pounced again to smash the ball past James Fortnam for his sixth goal of the tournament, sealing the win and ensuring his side progressed to the final four with one group game remaining.
David Condon fashioned the game’s first chance in the seventh minute but his shot after a great run bounced past David Kettle’s post before the ‘keeper made an acrobatic save to deny Mark Gleghorne from a penalty corner two minutes later.
In the second quarter Liam Ansell then hit the post from another corner at the start of the second quarter, Rupert Shipperley brilliantly cleared the ball away from a diving Barry Middleton and Ward forced Fortnam into a save with his foot as England pressed for an opener.
But it was to be their opponents who started the scoring as Hawker brilliantly diverted Ioan Wall’s cross beyond Harry Gibson before Francis diverted a corner in on the stroke of half-time.
George Pinner was then called into action five minutes into the second half to keep out Dale Hutchinson, a moment which finally woke England up as Condon once again barged his way into the circle, although Kettle saved his shot.
Ward then finally broke through in the 38th minute as he cutely deflected Liam Sanford’s raking past beyond the ‘keeper before smashing home a corner ten minutes later, with Phil Roper narrowly missing the target in between.
Aside from a Francis deflection which was well saved by Gibson it was all England thereafter, with Lewis Prosser heroically throwing himself in front of Gall’s effort on the line, and the pressure finally told with three minuets remaining as Ward controlled, turned and fired the ball past Fortnam.
England’s final group game is against India on Wednesday 11 April at 10:30 BST.
England Starting XI: Pinner (GK, C), Weir, Sanford, Creed, Dixon, Middleton, Gall, Sloan, Roper, Griffiths, Ward
Subs: Gibson (GK), Willards, Gleghorne, Condon, Goodfield, Martin, Ansell