England battle hard but go down 2-1 to Dutch

Dan Shingles in action for England against the Netherlands at the EuroHockey Championships

ENGLAND 1 (0)
Barry Middleton 54 (FG)

NETHERLANDS 2 (2)
Billy Bakker 6 (FG)
Jelle Galema 24 (FG)

Despite putting in a gutsy performance tonight against the Netherlands, England went down to a 2-1 defeat in their second pool match at the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships. The result means that England must now get at least a draw against Ireland when they play them on Wednesday at 10:30am (UK time) to ensure their place in the semi-finals.

Ben Arnold did not play tonight as a precautionary measure following a slight concussion he suffered in yesterday’s game against Poland. Meanwhile, Harry Martin only managed about 15 minutes of pitch time before he had to sit out through a hamstring strain which he has been suffering with in recent weeks.

The Netherlands were two goals up at half-time thanks to efforts from Jelle Galema and Billy Bakker, but England came out fighting and despite being two men down, through injury, they battled hard. The reward came through captain Barry Middleton in the 54th minute as he found space and time in the circle to pick his shot and fire the ball past Jaap Stockmann in the Dutch goal. Unfortunately England's efforts did not prove to be enough and the score remained 2-1.

Speaking after the game, England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, "We started slowly tonight and you can’t give a side like the Netherlands a chance to be on the front foot. A couple of miss-traps, not being quite tight enough in defence and suddenly we were chasing the game. From there we made life really difficult for ourselves. After that, I thought we competed really well, but we got a couple of injuries and you could probably tell our squad was stretched quite a bit.”

“In the second half I was really pleased with how we put ourselves out there and we played some good hockey. We would have liked to be more of a threat at the other end, but I think we can add that part of our game and cause more problems on the attack; I don't doubt that we have the ability, it’s just putting it all together.”

When asked about being reduced to 14 outfield players in a game against a side as strong the Netherlands England Captain Barry Middleton said, "I think naturally you miss a player like Harry (Martin) going off injured. He's a fundamental part of our midfield and I think he would be for any team, but we’ve got the squad to deal with that. I don't think being two men down was a reason for losing today, but I guess if you add the extra players in you do keep people a bit fresher for longer."

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s game against Ireland, Crutchley added, “As soon as you see the fixtures for a tournament like this you know the final group game is likely to be the crunch game. We're very aware of the challenge ahead; Ireland are a quality side and have been improving for a number of years and their results reflect that. We're a relatively inexperienced squad, with only six players here from the Olympics, so I think that makes it a tough game."

Click here to read the full match report.

England’s men have a rest day tomorrow and their next match is against Ireland at 10:30 (UK time) on Wednesday. The TriFinance EuroHockey Championships are being shown on the BBC Red Button, online and on iplayer.

For more information about the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships please visit the official website www.trifinanceeurohockey2013.be