England to play Argentina for bronze on Sunday

Barry Middleton at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 - Photo by Ady Kerry

The Netherlands hosted a thrilling World Cup Semi Final against England at the Kyocera Stadium this afternoon, with just a single goal proving to be enough to give the home crowd a victory. Led by an inspirational Barry Middleton, England threw everything they had at an impenetrable Dutch defence, but could not find a way through. After 70 minutes of play it was Mink van der Weerden’s 31st minute thunderous drag-flick which was the difference between the two sides.

England will now play for World Cup bronze against Argentina on Sunday while the Netherlands and Australia will contest the final.

NETHERLANDS (1)
Mink van der Weerden 31 (PC)

ENGLAND 0 (0)

The match between England and the Netherlands was played in a Kyocera Stadium awash with orange – the home support out in full force with 15,000 supporters packed in. England’s defence had been very strong throughout the tournament but the Netherlands are known to be one of the most dangerous teams in world hockey.

England’s Ashley Jackson commented after the game: “We knew it was going to be tough, they’re a very talented side. We wanted to keep it as close as possible for as long as possible, and we had some late chances but it wasn’t meant to be.”

England had an immediate early chance through Ashley Jackson powering into the circle from Nick Catlin’s pass, but Dutch keeper Jaap Stockmann made the save. The Dutch though also signalled their intent with some early pressure on the England goal and some good chances. The Netherlands were taking all free hits and long corners very quickly to keep the tempo up.

Ten minutes in and Valentin Verga made a strong dribble into the English circle, and then again had a chance deflected just wide of the English post off Henry Weir’s shin, winning the Dutch the first penalty corner of the match. Barry Middleton made an outstanding stick block on the goal-line from Mink van der Weerden’s low shot.

As they had done in previous matches, England reverted to soaking up pressure through their well-organised defence as the Netherlands enjoyed a lot of possession in the first quarter of the game. After 20 minutes, the Netherlands had spent 82% of the match in England’s half.

Iain Lewers then received a green card and two minutes in the sin-bin for an off-the-ball incident on Billy Bakker. The Netherlands had a good chance with a goal-mouth scramble after 23 minutes gone, and shortly after Verga had a golden opportunity with a one-on-one with Pinner, but he sent the shot wide under Pinner's pressure. The Netherlands had enjoyed eight circle penetrations to England’s one, but England still looked comfortable.

With five minutes of the first half remaining the Netherlands won a penalty corner and it was converted high into the English goal through a bullet shot from van der Weerden, Pinner unable to get close to the ball. That’s how the score stayed until half-time, the Netherlands going in 1-0 up.

After four minutes of the second half, the Netherlands won a penalty corner for a Dan Fox foot in the circle. The shot was brilliantly saved on the line, Barry Middleton again with a superb reaction block, and Pinner was on hand to tidy up and clear with authority.

Rogier Hofman hit the post after 13 minutes, slapping across Pinner from the right of the circle. Nevertheless the chances were more evenly split in the third quarter of the game versus the first half.

England won a penalty corner with 15 minutes to play, for a push on Barry Middleton who was about to shoot on the right of the circle. Jackson’s shot was blocked by an excellent charge-down by the Dutch defence.

It was the Netherlands’ turn next with a penalty corner for Michael Hoare’s foot in the circle. They lost control of the ball from the injection, with Robbert Kemperman’s resulting shot going just wide. By this point the Netherlands' side was onto their 25th circle penetration to England’s 11.

With eight minutes to go the game opened up and both teams looked to counter-attack, and the Dutch crowd were certainly making their support heard.

England had a great opportunity to equalise from a penalty corner, Mark Gleghorne with a strong run on the right through three Netherlands players. It was referred by the Dutch for dangerous play but the decision was upheld. Gleghorne took the shot and injector Iain Lewers went close with a deflection in the left channel from a good set piece.

With three minutes left to play England brought Pinner off and a kicking back on in the form of Michael Hoare. But England couldn’t find a break-though and the Netherlands won the game 1-0 to the home crowd’s delight.

Goalscorer Mink van der Weerden summed up his team’s thoughts after the game: “We’re really delighted with the win, it was a great team effort. We fought like hell in the second half and we also defended really well.”

FIH Official Match Sheet

England will play Argentina at 1130 on Sunday morning in the bronze medal match, while the Netherlands will face Australia in the final after the Kookaburras eased past Argentina 5-1 in their semi final. Both matches will be live on Sky Sports 3.

Watch England on home turf at the Investec London Cup on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is the first tournament to be played at the brand new Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, hockey’s legacy stadium from the 2012 Games. The tournament will be held across five days from 9 – 13 July. Tickets are available from www.englandhockey.co.uk/tickets