Narrow defeat on Middleton's milestone appearance

24 May 2014 / 21:49

England men were unable to mark captain Barry Middleton’s record-breaking appearance with a win, losing 2-1 against Australia on the final weekend of their World Cup preparations.

In their last round of friendly matches before next week’s World Cup gets underway in the Hague, England had taken the lead through Phil Roper’s 11th minute strike.

But Australia hit back nine minutes later via Kieran Govers before Chris Ciriello’s goal in the final minute of the game from a penalty corner snatched the win.

It meant Middleton was unable to toast victory as he passed Russell Garcia’s record as England and Great Britain’s most capped player with 308 appearances.

Head coach Bobby Crutchley was quick to pay tribute to his captain as well as pointing out where his side need to improve ahead of arriving in the Netherlands.

“It’s very disappointing to lose to a highly-ranked team after a fairly evenly matched game, however I thought we could’ve done better with a number of chances that we created,” said Crutchley, whose side play Australia again on Sunday.

“As a player Barry is a consummate professional; his approach to both his training and his own personal development allows him to keep making improvements even after a decade of playing at the very top.

“As a captain, he leads by example and is incredibly selfless; all the lads in the squad have a huge amount of respect for him and it’s been great to watch his leadership of the group develop across the five years since he took the captain’s armband back in 2009.”

© Sportsbeat 2014