HOCKEY: England captain Barry Middleton relishing Australia clash

England's Ashley Jackson scores from a penalty corner against Canada
England's Ashley Jackson scores from a penalty corner against Canada

England captain Barry Middleton is relishing the chance to go head to head with Australia in the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games.

England swept into the last four with a 3-1 win over Canada before Australia maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition with a 5-0 thumping of Scotland.

Only a seven-goal defeat at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre would have been enough to deny England a place in the last four, but they sealed their progress in style thanks to two goals from Ashley Jackson and one from Middleton in their final group game.

The Australians are the number-one ranked side in the world and have been in superb form, scoring 22 goals and conceding just three.

Middleton, though, is not daunted by the prospects of locking horns with them.

“It should be fun, that’s who you want to play in big tournaments,” he said.

“We have set our stall out over the last few years that we want to be in the big games and be in semi-finals.

“We are consistently making semi-finals with this group of players but we will go out there, give as good as we get, and we have belief in the team that we can beat anyone on our day.”

Against the Canadians, Jackson put them in front after 25 minutes, diverting home Middleton’s driven cross, and the captain doubled the lead straight after the break.

Jackson struck his second goal of the match, and seventh of the tournament, after 54 minutes, firing into the top of the net from a penalty corner.

Scott Tupper netted a consolation for the Canadians late on, but England had already done more than enough.

Middleton added: “We are very happy with that, we did what we set out to do which was control the game.

“It felt like it was comfortable the whole way through and we just kept on playing our game. We wanted to put out a performance that took our momentum into the semi-finals.”