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Commonwealth Games 2018: Australia 2 England 1

PUBLISHED: 17:15 13 April 2018

Ian Sloan netted England's goal in their semi-final loss to Australia (pic Nigel French/PA)

Ian Sloan netted England's goal in their semi-final loss to Australia (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

England’s hockey men were left to battle for bronze after being edged out by hosts Australia in their semi-final at the Commonwealth Games.

They were caught napping as Trent Mitton put the Australians ahead after just 26 seconds, but Ian Sloan levelled in the second half.

Mitton made his mark again, though, with a 50th-minute winner as England’s men suffered semi-final heartbreak, just like the women.

Mitton smashed past George Pinner to the delight of the home crowd and the England keeper had to race off his line to deny Dylan Wotherspoon a second goal on eight minutes.

England, with Barry Middleton winning his 413rd international cap to move to second on the all-time list, lost Sam Ward to a yellow card, but he went close on his return, deflecting Liam Ansell’s pass just past the post.

Harry Gibson produced three fine saves to thwart Australia, before Pinner kept out Tom Craig after the restart.

And England, who include Hampstead & Westminster’s Harry Martin, levelled soon after was Ward teed up Sloan to tuck the ball home, after Mark Gleghorne’s short corner flick had been saved.

Pinner smothered two more Australian efforts as they looked to regain the lead, but England started the final quarter well as David Goodfield came within inches of converting Ward’s cross.

Gleghorne blocked two Australian corners but Mitton netted his sixth goal of the tournament with 10 minutes left and it proved decisive, despite thehosts seeing two players yellow-carded late on.

England will face India at 10am on Saturday looking to repeat the bronze medal won the 2014 Glasgow Games.

Co-captain Phil Roper said: “I’m absolutely devastated, to be very honest with you. Watching that game we were all over them, we matched them toe to toe. We were better than them in the second half, we just couldn’t get that second goal in.

“They’re pretty good with different corners and they showed it. We’ve shown some great play out there and hopefully, we can come back tomorrow.

“Conceding in the first minute isn’t ideal, we’ll have to have a look at that and see how we could stop that from happening. I guess from there we were pretty good. As I said, I think we had a lot of the pressure in the second half. We created some good chances but we just couldn’t get a goal in.

“I’m sure the early goal did not affect our chances. If you could see our mindset we came straight back from that, we very much reset our thinking. We had a lot of resilience and high levels of intensity, we did the right stuff just couldn’t get them.

“Genuinely, we were all over them then second that goal went in. You saw them having a bit of a panic, then you know you have them on the back foot. We gave away that corner, but I do believe we have had some great chances.

“However, it’s just the nature of the game and that’s just how it ended up, we just lost the game by a goal.

“The crowd did have a little bit of an impact, obviously, they’re in Australia and they’re supporting their team. We came out here and I’m proud of what we did.

“The aim for now is to rest and recover and get anything we had from that game out our system. We really have to get one over India, we had a hell of a game with them the other night.

“I think it would be amazing to get that bronze medal for England. A fantastic tournament with a medal is what we came here to do.”

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