England U21 men lose to Netherlands

England U21 Men v Netherlands, July 25 2014, David Goodfield - credit Frank Uijlenbroek - 450

England Under-21 Men lost out 2-1 to the Netherlands in the semi final of the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships in Belgium on Friday evening, and will play-off for bronze in their final match on Saturday afternoon.

Cannock ace Arjan Drayton Chana’s early goal in the second half gave England hope as they pulled level with their rivals, but a goal seven minutes from the end edged the men in orange ahead, and England could not find a way back.

Head Coach Jon Bleby said: “We made an excellent effort and came out on the wrong end of it. Now we’ve got to pick ourselves up and prepare to go out and win a bronze medal, which will make us the first Under-21 team to win a medal since 1998.”

Tom Hiebendaal gave the Netherlands the early lead from open play after just one minute after deflecting in the ball following a melee at the top of the circle.

But England battled on and the rest of the first half saw strong counter attacks from the Netherlands matched by strong defence from England.

England came out for the second half aiming to be more productive in the circle, and they didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser, Drayton Chana scoring from a good cross by Reading’s Ben Boon, who had proved a thorn in the Netherlands’ side all match.

Boon himself fired just wide on 57 minutes, and a minute later England had a penalty appeal denied by the officials. The tide looked to be turning, but five minutes later the Netherlands struck through Hiebendaal from a penalty stroke, awarded after a foul by the England goalkeeper.

As time ticked down England took off their goalkeeper in favour of a kicking back, but the Netherlands defended strongly to keep them out.