Sam Ward insists England must stick to game plan after narrow win over Wales
Sam Ward says England must stick to their game plan after edging past rivals Wales 4-2 to maintain their 100 percent record at the Commonwealth Games.
The Leicester-born hockey star fired in the opener inside two minutes with a powerful strike from a penalty corner that had the home crowd up on their feet.
Lewis Prosser’s neat deflection made it 1-1 at half-time before Nick Bandurak scored his fourth penalty corner of the Games to give England the lead in the third quarter.
Wales midfielder James Carson reacted fastest to smash home another equaliser in the final 15 but England immediately went back in front through Phillip Roper before Bandurak volleyed home from close range to put the result beyond doubt.
Forward Ward, 31, said: “It’s massive to get a good start. We talk about things like that a lot in training and getting your first corner away and getting a 1-0 lead early on takes a bit of pressure out of the game and that’s great for the team more than anything.
“Playing against a home nation it was always going to be a physical game, we knew what we were up against today and I’m very proud of the lads that we put a result on.
“When you look at the Europeans two years ago we made a bit of a meal of it and drew 2-2 and didn’t make the semis.
“Today we stuck to our strengths. When we play to our game plan and play counter attacking hockey we're a very good side and we have to stick to that and play simple hockey.
“When we try and carry too much into contact, that's when we struggle.”
England eased past Ghana 6-0 in their opener and sit top of Pool A ahead of facing India tomorrow in front of the University of Birmingham crowds that Ward is relishing playing in front of.
He added: “We will rest up tonight with a big game against India tomorrow, hopefully we can get the win and our aim is to keep grinding and keep winning and then see what happens.
“I think the crowd were great and it’s just great to be playing games at home.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is inspiring people and communities across the country and Ward hopes their performance will motivate others to get involved in sport.
Ward’s fellow frontman Bandurak stretched his goal tally to five in just two matches at the Games with a double on Sunday but insisted England’s good start is purely a team effort.
Bandurak said: “It’s just my job. Everyone’s got important roles within the team, I just happen to be putting the ball in the goal, it’s no different to anyone else it just results in it working to our favour on the scoreboard.
“Thankfully I was able to take my chances today and it helped set up a big win.”
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