Darren Appleton admits England A need to up their game after narrowly squeezing past Spain in their opening match of the World Cup of Pool.
Fancied pairing Appleton and Karl Boyes suffered a real scare before battling back to win 7-6 at the Mountbatten Centre last night.
The pair were 5-3 down at one stage with Spain to break but the English team pulled it back to 5-5 and capitalised on a crucial mistake by opponent David Alcaide to book their place in the second round.
Appleton said: ‘We’re delighted to win the match. Spain are a very strong side and they should have been a seeded team.
‘It was a tough draw for us, especially in the first round because you don’t know the tables, the conditions, the venue, so I’m just really happy to go through.’
He added: ‘The first three racks were perfect racks but nobody really got a grip on the match.
‘Luckily for us, they had an illegal break at 5-3, which allowed us back into the game.
‘We played solid without playing great.’
England A play Greece in the last 16 tomorrow and Appleton knows they face another stiff test.
‘Greece are slightly better on paper than Spain,’ he said.
‘We know in the next match we have to step up to the next level.
‘The key is to break well and if we get shots off the breaks then we can get into our groove.
‘Last year we got to the quarter-finals but we’ve come here to win the tournament.
‘But we don’t come here expecting to win because you need luck in pool and there’s a lot of good teams.’
Appleton, who lives in the United States, was last in Portsmouth for a tournament 15 years ago, and said: ‘We’re on the seaside so I feel like we’re abroad.
‘We have a couple of days to look around and maybe have some fish and chips on the seafront.’
The USA duo of Earl Strickland and Shane Van Boening made light work of Croatia as they waltzed through to a 7-2 win and last-16 clash against Russia this evening.
Strickland said: It’s always good to win the first match. We played well until we started making mistakes.
‘The table’s running a little faster than I thought. I thought it would be slower and it got away from me a couple of times. You’ve just got to keep momentum.
‘It’s a short format so every shot is valuable.’
Meanwhile last year’s runners-up Holland got their campaign off to a successful start with a 7-3 win over Sweden.
The biggest shock of the day took place in the afternoon session when Qatar eliminated Chinese Taipei 7-5.
Chinese Taipei have reached the semi-final in each of the last four World Cups but Qatar’s Waleed Majid and Bashar Hussain produced an impressive performance to go through.
Elsewhere, Poland dispatched of Australia 7-4, while China beat Czech Republic 7-5.
Meanwhile, the home nation’s second pairing, England B, take to the table tonight when they face India.
Daryl Peach and Chris Melling will be hoping to join compatriots Appleton and Boyes in the last 16.