England relegated in EuroHockey Indoor Champs

20140119-England Indoors-Simon Egerton-450

ENGLAND’s hopes of retaining their top-flight status – and qualifying for the World Cup – disappeared after they suffered a string of narrow defeats at the EuroHockey Men’s Indoor Championships in Vienna, Austria, last weekend.

Their bid to avoid dropping out of the top flight went right down to the wire, but a 2-3 defeat to the Czech Republic on Sunday ended their hopes, and was just the latest in a string of very close matches.

Only once did England lose by more than one goal, and secured a hard-fought and deserved draw against eventual bronze medalists Russia.

And they were leading 7-6 against eventual winners Germany with five minutes remaining before the reigning World and European champions hit back late in the game.

“Although bitterly disappointed not have achieved a better final placing, I am nevertheless proud of the effort and the progress from this squad of players,” said Head Coach Andy Halliday.

“Indoor hockey at this level is uncompromising, so I hope we are able learn from this tournament and continue to build for the future.”

England 2 (1)

Simon Egerton 21 (FG)
Chris Griffiths 7 (FG)

Czech Republic 3 (0)

Stepan Bernatek 33 (FG
Ondrej Vudmaska 36 (FG)
David Vacek 25 (FG)

Two late goals from the Czech Republic saw them snatch victory away from England after they had led for the majority of the match.

Victory in this match – and a win for the Netherlands in their final pool match against the Sweden – would’ve seen England avoid relegation and qualify for the World Cup.

The first part of that sequence seemed on the cards, with England having taken the lead through Chris Griffiths after seven minutes. James Bailey kept England ahead with a great penalty stroke save after 16 minutes, and Simon Egerton doubled their advantage with a 21st minute strike just after half time.

However, the Czechs halved the deficit with David Vacek scoring on 25 minutes, and they tied the match through Stepan Bernatek on 33 minutes, before Ondrej Vudmaska’s 36th minute goal ensured a win for the Czech Republic.

And the defeat was marred by a knee injury for David Cooper in the final few minutes after he twisted awkwardly and ruptured a tendon.