Monday 26 February 2018

Sothern strike keeps Ireland on the road to Rio

Ireland's Alan Sothern
Ireland's Alan Sothern Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland 1 Pakistan 0 Men's World Hockey League

A goal from Alan Sothern gave Ireland their first win over Pakistan and kept them in the hunt for a place in the Rio Olympic Games.

The victory in Antwerp earned Craig Fulton's side a re-match with Malaysia tomorrow (noon Irish time).

And the prize at stake in the fifth place play-off will be a place on the guest list for Rio 2016.

Full of eager running, the Pakistanis enjoyed plenty of possession throughout yesterday's edgy encounter in the stifling 30-degree heat.

But for all their pressure, they carved out very few clear-cut openings against a defence in which Paul Gleghorne was masterful.

Ireland waited until the second half to show their claws, with Stephen Dowds blazing an effort over the bar and Ronan Gormley forcing a save from Imran Butt.

The Pakistan goalkeeper was finally wrong-footed on 47 minutes when Sothern found the gap between his pads to convert Ireland's second corner.

Once in the lead, the Irish were once more pressed back for long periods but displayed unwavering discipline in the face of the Pakistani storm.

Goalkeeper Davy Harte had just one save of note to make, putting an inspired left hand to a scrambled effort in the closing two minutes.

The clash with Malaysia offers the Irish an opportunity to re-write the record against rivals who prompted their worst display of the tournament - a 4-2 loss in the pool stages

Conor Harte sat out yesterday's match but his injured shoulder may be risked in tomorrow's showdown.

Ireland - D Harte, J Jackson, J Bell, R Gormley, P Gleghorne, A Sothern, S Dowds, E Magee, S O'Donoghue, M Darling, K Good. Subs: M Watt, C Cargo, P Caruth, K Shimmins, D Carlisle; (not used) C Harte, D Fitzgerald.

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