Steep learning curve for England U18 boys

England U18 Boys 2016

England U18 Boys were hosted by their Dutch counterparts over the Easter period in Rotterdam for a demanding 3 match test series that marked the start of their preparations for the EuroHockey Youth Championship being held in Cork, Ireland later in the year.

This three match series proved to be a stern test for the England side, which was selected following Futures Cup and HiPAC last October, falling to the strong Dutch team in all three games.

The first game saw the Dutch score first followed by a good goal from Duncan Scott showing a calm first touch and 3D skills to bring England level during the first half. Some poor defending saw England concede two quick goals before the break to go into half time 3 -1 down.

Holland came out strong and scored a 4th within minutes of the start of the second half, England then hit back with a strike from Evan Kimber in open play. Holland then closed out the game with 3 strong finishes from counter attacks. The game ended with a win for the hosts, 7-2.

A positive for England though was that they maintained a strong penalty corner defence throughout while U18 debutants Sam Hooper and Matt Steventon showed great promise.

Match 2 proved a much closer affair, with both teams battling for midfield control and creating scoring chances. Holland were first to break the deadlock and went into the half time break 1-0 up from a well taken penalty corner goal.

The second half continued at pace with England winning a penalty corner minutes after the restart, Simon Claris converted well to score his first international goal to bring England level 1-1. England continued their pressure on the Dutch which resulted in another well earned penalty corner which Eddie Way converted to give them a 2-1 lead.

England continued their strong pressure until the final minutes of the game which saw Holland convert 2 from 4 penalty corners to win the game 3-2. Though they showed significant improvement from the previous game the result ultimately came down to penalty corner conversion, a skill in which Holland excelled on this occasion.

England began the final match of the series with the same gusto as the weather. Captain James Oates scored from open play after 3 minutes. They continued strongly in search of a second goal but a mistake in defence gave Holland the chance to score from open play, which they did following a good attempt to save by Alex Cook in goal.

England continued to press in search of a second goal but a lapse in concentration in the dying second of the first half saw another well taken Dutch penalty corner to give Holland a 2-1 lead going into the break.

The second half continued in the same vein with England controlling play well but still struggling to convert their chances, not helped by some great saves from the Dutch keeper. Eddie Way managed to break through and score England’s second goal but the strength of Holland eventually came through as they scored a third goal from open play towards the end of the game.

Head Coach Jody Paul commented on the series, “This series has given the squad a good base to work from as we prepare for European’s later in the year. We have progressed through each game both in terms of our defensive play and the intensity of our attack. Overall I am pleased with the team and individual performance of our players, in particular the development that has been made against a quality opposition”.

The U18 Squad that travelled to Holland:
1 Simon Claris
2 Alex Cook (GK)
3 Thomas Crowson
4 William Hewer
5 Sam Hooper
6 Daniel Jackson
7 Evan Kimber
8 Tim Nurse
9 James Oates
10 Oliver Payne (GK)
11 Matthew Ramshaw
12 Ollie Rogerson
13 Duncan Scott
14 Ben Stevenson
15 Matthew Steventon
16 Lucas Ward
17 Eddie Way
18 Jack Whelan