England Men through to EuroHockey Semi-Finals

England's defence stands strong as they hold Ireland to a 2-2 draw to reach the EuroHockey Semi-Finals 450

IRELAND 2 (0)
Shane O'Donoghue 51, 57 (PS, PS)

ENGLAND 2 (2)
Tom Carson 7, 19 (FG, FG)

England are through to the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships following a nail-biting 2-2 draw against Ireland this morning. Tom Carson was England's hero with two goals for his side, but it was a real team effort to keep a determined Ireland from taking a victory.

Check out all the photos from the day at facebook.com/englandhockey

England’s men have a rest day before their semi-final on Friday when they will face hosts Belgium at 19:30. The TriFinance EuroHockey Championships are being shown on the BBC Red Button, online and on iplayer.

Ireland started the brighter side, creating an early chance, but it was England who got the first goal with just seven minutes on the clock. After some good build up play and a great run across the circle by David Condon he fired his shot towards goal, which Reading's Tom Carson deftly deflected in the air past David Harte in Ireland's goal. In the 19th minute England were back on the score sheet. This time a pass across the circle from Barry Middleton found Carson, who again was in a perfect spot and reacted quickly to slot the ball home to make it 2-0 at half-time.

Following the break, Ireland came out with a sense of purpose about their game and immediately put England on the back foot. Their reward came in the 51st minute when Shane O'Donoghue scored from a penalty stroke after Pinner was judged to have deliberately stopped the ball with the back of his stick. O'Donoghue made no mistakes with a clinical finish to pull one back for his side. Six minutes later, Ireland were back in the circle again and with no video referral England couldn't question the umpire's decision to give another penalty stroke. A second go for O'Donoghue and again he made no mistake against Pinner in England's goal.

At 2-2 England would still make it through to the semi-finals by the narrowest of margins having scored one more goal than Ireland in the tournament. Ireland had their chances and it was a nail-biting finish for England fans, but they hung on to take the point and progress to the semi-finals on Thursday when they will face Belgium at 19:30 (uk time).

Speaking after the game England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley, gave his thoughts on the performance, “I think the game was always going to be tight, and although there is a significant gap in the world rankings between us and Ireland [4th & 15th in the world respectively], we are a young team and are going through a rebuilding phase. We knew how strong this Irish side was going to be and we never underestimated them coming into the tournament, especially because it was such a significant game today.”

“In the second half we weren't good enough on the ball, we had chances and we should have passed it better, so that was frustrating for me. Having said that, I am delighted because we got the result we needed and we're through to the semi-finals. I said when I got the job it was going to be a tough few months and I knew we'd have a lot of up and downs, but I'm really proud of the players today, coming up against a very strong side and getting the resulted we needed."

Looking ahead to a semi-final on Friday, Crutchley added, "Our options are likely to be playing Belgium, who have played the best hockey of the tournament so far, or Olympic Champions Germany, who are past masters of getting through to this stage of the competition and always producing their best form in the games that count. So I don't think you'd pick to play either one, but we are delighted to be through to the semi-finals with this squad, and that was the first and most important objective for us." Spain could also still qualify for the final four.

England forward and goal scorer, Tom Carson, was asked about his contribution to the game, “Scoring goals is always good, I was fortunate the balls fell to me in the circle and that’s something we’ve been working on really hard in training, to get into those positions, so it’s great for it to come off today. But I couldn’t score the goals unless the right balls are fed in, so it’s definitely a team effort.”

Click here to read the full match report.

England's women already know they will face tough opponents the Netherlands in their semi-final, Thursday at 19:30 (UK time). It will be live on the BBC Red Button, BBC online and Eurosport UK.

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