Brave defeat for England in final World League match

Liam Sanford v Netherlands HWL F 2017
England (0) 0

Netherlands (0) 1
Pruijser (42, FG)

England’s Odisha Hockey World League Final campaign ended with a narrow defeat to The Netherlands in a tight and tense encounter in Bhubaneshwar.

Mirco Pruijser scored the game’s only goal in the third quarter as both sides struggled to get to grips with a sodden pitch and very tricky overhead conditions.

Harry Martin, Chris Griffiths and Mark Gleghorne all had good chances for England but on each occasion they were halted by goalkeeper Sam van der Ven.

There was some consolation though as Liam Sanford was named the Junior Player of the Match for the third consecutive game at the end of the tournament in which the defender shone consistently.

With the rain teeming down from the start both teams took a while to settle, with Sanford in particular excelling in defence and preventing George Pinner from getting in on the action in his 100th England game.

The game suddenly burst into life in the 24th minute as David Condon broke through two tackles and raced into the Dutch circle before finding Griffiths, only for the forward to be thwarted by an onrushing van der Ven.

Seconds later the Dutch almost scored themselves as Valentin Verga showed great skill to get past Gleghorne but Harry Gibson was out quickly to make an athletic save with his left hand.

England then raced up the other end once again, with Sam Ward unlucky not to find a team-mate with a cross before Martin showed some superb 3D skills to beat three defenders, only to see van der Ven block his effort as well.

With the rain worsening during the break the second half began with large puddles forming on the pitch, making the going even harder as the ball struggled to cross the surface.

This hampered England’s plans during their first penalty corner in the 32nd minute but the ball still found its way to David Goodfield, only for the midfielder to smash a reverse stick effort into the wrong side of the goal.

The conditions certainly did not affect Verga ten minutes later though as he went on a mazy run before producing a cheeky pass to Pruijser, who expertly steered the ball into the corner of Pinner’s goal to open the scoring.  

With six minutes remaining England won a second penalty corner that Gleghorne thundered towards goal but, once again, van der Ven was on hand to keep it out.

Thijs van Dam then had a glorious effort to wrap up the win with three minutes remaining but could not divert his shot into an open goal after barging his way past two defenders.

But that was to prove inconsequential as the Dutch held on to claim their first win of the tournament.

Starting XI: Pinner (C), Taylor, Weir, Martin, Roper, Middleton, Creed, Condon, C Griffiths, Gall, Sanford

Subs (Used): Gibson, Ames, Ward, Gleghorne, Dixon, Goodfield, Ansell