England march on as Pinner denies Belgium

George Pinner was awarded the Hero Man of the Match award after a brilliant performance to deny Belgium in the Quarter-Final

England maintained their 100% record at the World League Final as they beat Belgium 1-0 to book a place in the semi-finals.

England 1 (0)

Tom Carson 47 (PC)

Belgium 0 (0)

It couldn’t have been much closer, but thanks to an inspired defensive display, England secured a nail-biting 1-0 victory over Belgium in the first Quarter-Final of the day at the Hero Hockey World League Final.

After a goalless first half, Reading’s Tom Carson was back on the score sheet for the third time this tournament; this time it was from a penalty corner drag-flick in the 47th minute. However, it was at the opposite end of the pitch where the victory was sealed, thanks in no small part to a world-class performance by Beeston’s George Pinner, who stood strong in goal to keep a determined Belgium out.

The result goes some way to making up for the disappointment of losing 3-0 to the world number five side in the semi-finals at the EuroHockey Championships last summer and speaking after the game Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said: “I think the result and performance today reflects on how far we’ve come as a team since the Europeans. We’ve improved a lot, even over the four games in this tournament, and to get a win over a side as strong as Belgium is credit to how hard the team has worked over the last five months in training. I think the quality of our defending was outstanding today, but it is the improved team performance across the whole pitch which is encouraging.”

“Looking ahead to Friday, I still want us to improve our attacking play on the ball and convert the chances we create into more goals. We’re much more tactically astute than we were in the summer and that shows the progress of us developing from being an inexperienced team to beating some of the top sides in the world here.”

Click here to watch the highlights from today’s game.

The game opened at quite a tempo as both sides pushed hard to make their mark early on. A well worked move between Reading teammates Simon Mantell and Tom Carson saw Carson hit a brilliant volley past Vanash in Belgium’s goal, but Belgium successfully overturned the decision with the help of the video umpire after the replays showed the ball coming down off Mantell’s body in the circle.

The momentum switched away from England after the disallowed goal and the red lions pushed forward, but England kept their calm and closed down Belgium’s chances to keep a clean sheet and a 0-0 score line going into the break.

The game opened up in the second half as more chances started to fall to both sides. Mantell and Carson continued to cause trouble in attack with some great link up play, and in the 47th minute Carson got his reward. After a series of penalty corners, Carson stepped up to the top of the circle and drove his drag-flick low to the right of Vanash to give England a 1-0 lead.

Belgium threw everything they had at England in the final stages. A brilliant stop in front of goal from Iain Lewers was followed by an untimely yellow card for the East Grinstead star close to full time, which undoubtedly put England on the back foot even more. Pinner, in England’s goal, was emphatic across the 70 minutes and made several vital saves in the closing stages to keep the score line in England’s favour and seal the 1-0 victory and a place in the semi-final.

Speaking after the game, Hero Man of the Match George Pinner said, “It’s really nice to play my part in a strong team performance today. I think we’ve played really well in the first three games and the guys have defended brilliantly so I haven’t had that much to do. It was just nice to play a good part today and get the win.”

Adding his thoughts on Friday’s match, Pinner said: “Bring on whoever [Argentina or New Zealand] in the Semi-Final. You come to a tournament like this with eight of the best sides in the world and there are no easy games. We’ve won four from four, our confidence is high and we’ll take whoever we get.”

In the other afternoon push back the Netherlands secured a close 2-1 victory over the world number one side Germany to set up a semi-final against either India or Australia.

There’s a rest day tomorrow for the teams ahead of the semi-finals on Friday where England will face either New Zealand or Argentina at 12:15pm. All matches are being streamed live at www.youtube.com/fihockey.

England Men’s Squad

Started

George Pinner – Beeston – Goalkeeper
Ashley Jackson – East Grinstead – Midfield
Michael Hoare – Wimbledon – Defender
Adam Dixon – Beeston – Midfield/Defender
Dan Fox – Holcombe – Defender
Iain Lewers – East Grinstead – Defender
Simon Mantell – Reading – Forward
Barry Middleton – Holcombe – Midfield/Forward
Henry Weir – Wimbledon – Midfield/Defender
Tom Carson – Reading – Forward
Nick Catlin – Reading – Midfield/Forward

Substitutes used

Mark Gleghorne – East Grinstead – Forward
Alastair Brogdon – Wimbledon - Forward
Harry Martin – Beeston – Midfield
David Condon – East Grinstead – Midfield
Ollie Willars – Beeston – Defender
Tim Whiteman – Beeston – Midfield/Defender

Did not play

Patrick Smith – Cannock – Goalkeeper