England downed by determined Dutch

England vs. Netherlands Euros 480 x 290

England 0 (0)

Netherlands 2 (1)
Mirco Pruijser 26 (PC)
Constantijn Jonker 55 (FG)

England slipped to defeat in their second pool game of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships as a determined Netherlands ran out 2-0 winners in a fast-paced encounter at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Goals from Mirco Pruijser and Constantijn Jonker did the damage, sending the Dutch into the semi-finals and setting up a crucial last pool game for England against Spain.

The game started off at a searing pace with both sides keen to seize the initiative. With much of the first quarter devoted to a midfield battle, chances were hard to come by. Ashley Jackson looked the most likely to unlock the Dutch the defence with a series of probing runs and some lovely skills, however it was the Dutch who created the two best chances of the opening 15 minutes. Thierry Brinkman was all alone in the circle with time and space but Dan Fox came from nowhere to block, taking the sting off the shot and allowing George Pinner to make the save. Then, Pruijser was played in close to the goal but Pinner made another excellent block before Billy Bakker crashed the rebound onto the bar, ensuring it was still deadlocked at the break.

It was more of the same in the second quarter, but England went close after seven minutes of the second period. A lovely pass from Jackson cut open the defence and Chris Griffiths turned and fired an instant shot which Jaap Stockmann did well to get his pads in the way of.

Pinner was alert at the other end and to block a dangerous run from Jonker but the Dutch attacked again and won their first penalty corner. It was from this corner that they took the lead. Pinner got his glove to the initial shot from Glenn Schuurman but Pruijser lashed the rebound in on the volley. Jackson’s penalty corner was superbly kept out by Stockmann at the other end with time running out in the half and it remained 1-0 at the interval.

Jonker had a glorious chance at the start of the second half to double the lead but with Pinner bearing down on him he couldn’t get the elevation on the ball and the giant goalkeeper saved once again. Neither side could find the game’s second goal and so the contest entered the final quarter with the score still 1-0.

In the fourth quarter Pinner made another outstanding save to deny Jonker and then England were refused a penalty corner on referral as the tension built towards a frantic finale. Bobby Crutchley’s side got their penalty corner with the game entering the last ten minutes. Gleghorne took the responsibility but Stockmann pulled off a stunning stick save diving to his right to preserve the lead.

With five minutes left on the clock England were floored by a sucker punch from the Netherlands. Rogier Hofman somehow manufactured a cross from a tight angle and Jonker got ahead of his man to deflect the ball into the net. Jackson slammed a backhand shot into the side netting with time running out but England couldn’t find a goal and were beaten.

England’s next match of the competition is against Spain and takes place on 25 August at 19:30. Coverage is on the BBC Red button and BBC Sport website.

Quotes – Bobby Crutchley

“We’re disappointed to lose. It was a tight game we could have got something out of it but our performance was not where I wanted it to be. We created some chances but the quality of our passing wasn’t good enough. That’s something we usually pride ourselves on so it’s especially disappointing. We defended quite well but if you give the ball away too often you’re always going to struggle. They took their chances well and they were defensively very organized. We helped them a bit as we didn’t use the ball well but they’re hard to play against and that was the case tonight.”

“We will look at our performance and work on the areas we need to improve. Sometimes being a coach is difficult as telling them to pass the ball better is not particularly useful. It’s not so much a tactical change we need. They know what they need to do, they’re experienced players and they’ll be keen to improve against Spain.”

The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 showcases the best eight men’s and women’s teams in Europe, including both England teams. The event will offer entertainment both on and off the pitch with a large fan park, including a fun zone for children. The stadium capacity has been expanded to cater for demand for tickets, with some sessions on the verge of selling out again at the increased capacity. The tournament is one of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded events as part of the #EveryRoadtoRio series. You can find out more at www.uksport.gov.uk/events .