Paul Drinkhall rues lack of attack in semi-final defeat

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Paul Drinkhall rues lack of attack in semi-final defeat
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Table tennis totem Paul Drinkhall rued not taking the game to Singapore as England’s men’s team were forced into the bronze medal match at the Commonwealth Games.

England lost the opening doubles of their semi-final clash before the Loftus star came to the fore by winning his first singles 3-1 against Zhe Yu Clarence Chew.

Liam Pitchford’s defeat meant Drinkhall had to win to force a decider and he obliged with a 3-0 victory over Yong Izaac Quek but Sam Walker’s defeat ended England’s hopes of backing up their No.1 ranking by taking gold.

Drinkhall said: “We said before the match we need to get to three and that's all it is. It's a team match.

“We win and we lose together. Unfortunately today we lost. They were better. That's the simple thing.

“I don't mean that they wanted it more but they handled their emotions a bit better.

“Possibly us being the No.1 seed we let them attack us a bit too much, rather than us trying to get in front and take the game to them.”

The result means Drinkhall is not guaranteed a seventh Commonwealth Games medal with England facing a straight shoot-out tomorrow to replicate their third-place finish from the Gold Coast four years ago.

The 32-year-old added: “We want to win every game we play. We've got four players.

“We'll go and eat and rest, talk about tomorrow and either opponent we play is going to be difficult.

“We're going to go out and play and do what we can. Hopefully it's enough to get the medal.”

Around the corner in Birmingham’s NEC, Wearside warrior Kiaran MacDonald said he could not wait to get into the ring and it showed as he breezed his way into the Commonwealth Games quarter-finals.

The silky Sunderland fighter gave a timely reminder of his podium potential with a clinical unanimous points victory over 2018 bronze medallist M Vidanalage Ishan Ranjeewa Senevir of Sri Lanka.

MacDonald was full of confidence after pulling off the boxing mantra of hit and don’t get hit to a tee, displaying a fleet of foot that he hopes will take him all the way to the top.

He said: “I'm over the moon. The first one is always the worst, so it's great to get it out of the way. I have spent a week seeing everyone else winning, so it is great to get in the ring and get the job done.

“I knew he was a seasoned operator but he just rushed it and telegraphed it a bit. I felt like I was a step ahead all the time.

“I felt like I was a level above today and I’ve just got to build on this for my next performance.”

European silver medallist MacDonald will return to action in Thursday’s quarter-final against Otukile Rajab Mahommed of Botswana and is set to be cheered on once again by his army of travelling fans.

He said: “It’s massive [to have my family here], they don’t get to watch us compete much live. I think the last time I competed in England was 2017, so it’s massive to have the Games on my doorstep.

“The opening ceremony made the hairs on my neck stand up and walking out in the arena with everyone behind you it’s great to have the nation’s support.”

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