Winning start for England U21s in Valencia

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England U21 3 (2)
Megan Crowson 34, 43 (FG, FG)
Erica Sanders 22 (PC) 

India 0 (0)

England Head Coach Craig Keegan hailed his side’s “pleasing start” to the five nations tournament in Valencia. Two goals from Megan Crowson and a penalty corner from Erica Sanders steered Keegan’s England U21s to a comfortable 3-0 win over India in their opening match.

However, despite his delight at the victory, Keegan was keen to stress that his side has room for improvement.

“We were able to maintain a high level of possession for long periods, enabling us to generate good circle outcomes and score three quality goals.” The Head Coach told England Hockey.  “However, the final 15 minutes were frustrating as our usual high standards slipped and we continually gave India cheap possession. These are invaluable learning opportunities, and we must develop our understanding of how to close out games like these.”  

England dominated the early exchanges but were made to wait until the 22nd minute to take the lead. A well-worked penalty corner was despatched by Erica Sanders- the University of Birmingham forward bringing her red-hot domestic form to the U21s.

Keegan’s side hunted a second goal and just before the break they got it. An aggressive high press pushed India back and Crowson won the ball just outside the circle, she calmly moved the ball into the D and smashed in an unerring finish.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first with England producing some nice hockey as they hunted another goal. Eight minutes after the interval they got their third. Impressive build up play down the left concluded with an excellent connection between Ellie Rayer and Charlotte Calnan who then crossed the ball to find Crowson’s full stretch dive to deflect the into the net.

England saw out the game to collect the three points and Keegan told England Hockey afterwards:

“This squad is very young, but it has a lot of talent. The challenge now is gaining the necessary experience and understanding of how to apply that talent, as well as generate high level game awareness. With the Junior World Cup only weeks away, our learning must be accelerated.”

England's next match is on 26 October at 2pm against Belgium.

All the tournament information can be found here.