England U21 Men play Holland at Bisham

England U21 Men at Bisham Abbey

England's U21 Men are taking part in a training camp at Bisham Abbey, along with playing some training matches against European visitors, Holland.

Match 1

England 2 (1)
Ben Boon 33 (FG)
James Gall 67 (FG)

Netherlands 1 (0)
Pepyn Luigts 70 (PC)

England's first game against Holland finished with a good result after a hard fought game against strong opposition. The first half was a scrappy affair, with Holland probably having the better of the play, but some very good defending from Brendan Creed and Luke Taylor restricted the Dutch to very few clear chances other than three corners to England’s one. However, in the last few minutes of the half a well-worked free hit close to the Dutch circle saw Sam French deflect the ball into the circle for Ben Boon to finish well from close range.

England were far brighter in the second half and created some good opportunities whilst keeping the Dutch at bay, with Harry Gibson making good saves when Holland did penetrate the English defence. In the 67th minute James Gall finished off a decisive move following some good work from David Goodfield to fire home from the right side of the circle. However, Holland gained a corner in the last minute and in over-time scored from a second re-award, but England still finished 2-1 victors.

England U21 Men's Head Coach John Bleby said after the game: "After a poor first half we played some very good hockey in the second, and proved that we have the ability to hang on in there and grind out a result. Though we are pleased with the result, I look for an improvement, particularly with our core skills, in the next two games. Even after beating Germany and Holland in the last week we need to remain focussed on raising our game as we move towards the Euros."

Match 2

England 1 (1)
Rob Field 29 (FG)

Netherlands 1 (1)
Jasper Lujhs 9 (PC)

Another strong performance which was only marred by a nasty hand injury to Team Captain Brendan Creed. England started slowly, as they did in yesterday's game, and conceded a penalty corner after 9 minutes from a foot in the circle. It took 20 minutes for the English to take control of the game and then they forced three corners in quick succession without success, but after this sustained period of play Robert Field scored from 5m out after some good work on the right by Ed Horler. The scores remained level at 1-1 going into the break 

The second half started with the home side pressing hard and until Creed’s injury at a short corner in the 50th minute it looked as though a second goal would come with several telling crosses into the circle but time after time the forwards failed to convert. Holland then saw a chance to pressurise the English circle but to their credit the defence held strong and as the game came to an end the English were again pressing hard for a winner and were disappointed that they had not taken one of their chances at the end.

England U21 Men's Head Coach John Bleby: "Another positive performance which augurs well for a successful campaign in Belgium, but we have to learn to finish off our chances and be more clinical in the opposition circle. I was pleased that we levelled out the corner count today which was a goal for this particular game."

Match 3

England 1 (1)
Arjan Drayton Chana 1 (FG)

Holland 1 (0)
Pelle Vos 37 (FG)

England rounded off their preparation for the Euros by winning this three match series against Holland. Having won and drawn the first two games a draw today (1-1) meant they go to Belgium in high spirits. They have now played Belgium, Germany and Holland recently and only lost one game; a narrow 3–4 defeat to Germany.

This game started in spectacular style when Arjan Drayton Chana converted from over his head to smash the ball into the net after a quick and incisive break by Ben Boon. The rest of the half was closely fought with Harry Gibson making a couple of good saves and chances missed in the Dutch circle.

The second half started badly when the Dutch stole the ball in midfield and despite some desperate defending managed to carry the ball into the circle and beat the advancing goalkeeper. The game then ebbed and flowed with England again going close and forcing corners but unable to score. Equally the Dutch had opportunities to win the game but good defending prevented any further goals.

Speaking after the series, England U21 Men's Head Coach John Bleby said: "We've had an excellent few weeks with us really demonstrating our strengths in defence and attack and becoming a side that will be very difficult to beat. Even though we are delighted to have recorded back to back series wins against the strongest teams in Europe we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground and understand that we have to perform at the highest level in the European Championships to achieve anything. I genuinely feel that there is more to come from this team and will make sure that we prepare meticulously for next week’s campaign."