EuroHockey Qualifiers D, Men
Thursday 25th August
Switzerland 7 – 2 Gibraltar
Scotland 0 – 1 Wales
Switzerland 7 – 2 Gibraltar; during the first game of the day, I was stood next to the father of 16 year old Gibraltar player Jyan Duo. Apparently, he got his GCSE results today and did quite well. However, his team didn’t get off to such a good start. The Swiss scored directly from their first short corner, with a Loris Granchamp drag flick. The islanders equalise in a similar way, after a succession of set pieces. Julian Lopez opened the account for his team. It was interesting to see these two teams compete against each other, instead of the vastly superior opponents that they had yesterday. We were shown something closer to what they can offer. The Swiss looked to play a rather more expansive type of hockey, passing the ball around and using the width of the pitch. The second quarter followed a similar pattern to that of the first, with the Swiss taking the lead from a short corner, before being pegged back by Gibraltar. This time the equaliser came from open play, after the umpire allowed some advantage. This was short lived, however, as Elias Brönniamann showed some lovely individual skill to give the Alpine nation a three to two goal advantage. Switzerland added a fourth and fifth early in the second half, extending their lead even further. The game ended seven two to the Swiss, with Brönniamann bagging four goals, including a top corner reverse stick strike in the fourth quarter.
Scotland 0 – 1 Wales; the second game of the day saw the two top ranked teams in this tournament play against each other. A cagey first period saw either team checking each other out, with occasional forays into the opposition circle. The first real chance came from a Welsh short corner, that was tipped over Tommy Alexander’s crossbar. Gareth Furlong opened the scoring for the Welsh, with about three minutes left of the first half. A short corner routine managed to sneak past the Scottish goalkeeper. The Scots nearly struck back immediately, with a set piece of their own, but were unable to convert. It was one of the few chances that the hosts were able to carve out in the first 30 minutes, as they had been pegged back somewhat by a well disciplined Welsh side. Scotland started to creep forward in the third quarter. Struan Walker looked to force the issue, with a thud of a shot against the goalie’s pads. However as the hooter went for the end of the third period the score remained the same. As the clock ticked down, Scotland removed their goalkeeper in order to have an extra outfielder. It very nearly worked, allowing for greater possession in higher areas of the pitch, but without success. Wales held out for the win, which puts them in prime position for qualification, going into the final round of games with Gibraltar yet to play.
Best Moment of the Day
In a game that swung like a pendulum in the first half, Elias Brönniamann showed some lovely skill to put his Swiss team in the lead for a third time. After driving along the baseline on the keeper’s left, he then lobbed the Gibraltarian goalie to score one of the best goals of the tournament so far…
There are several good ball carriers in the Welsh team. Jacob Draper, Rupert Shipperley and Lewis Prosser can all handle the ball well under pressure. Struan Walker looked good for the Scots and Tommy Alexander is a solid goalkeeper. However, one person stole the show today. Four goals from Swiss player Elias Brönniamann helped to secure his team a dominant win over Gibraltar, in the earlier game of the day. He even bagged a particularly good goal, with some individual skills, before lobbing the goalkeeper.