Olympic Silver Medalists Too Strong

England’s ABN AMRO Champions Trophy campaign came to an end on Sunday morning with defeat to Spain in a match that was much closer than the final score would suggest. 

Two Ashley Jackson penalty corner goals gave England hope of a fifth place finish but Spain, the Olympic silver medallists ranked three places higher than England, ultimately won the battle 5-2 thanks in part to the individual excellence of Pol Amat and Pau Quemada.

Spain had taken an early lead and doubled it before Ashley Jackson scored the first of two penalty corners to cut the deficit.  The build up to Spain's third was controversial for what looked to be a foot in the middle of the park but Tubau finished and England went in at half time 3-1 down. 

It was with renewed vigour that England set about Spain in the second period, putting the Spanish back line under pressure for sustained periods however Spain scored their fourth after a well worked penalty corner set play.

Jackson pulled another one back from a set piece and England could have had further goals but for the presence of Spanish goalkeeper Franscisco Cortes.

Pol Amat netted a flattering fifth in the final minute.

The result confirmed England's sixth place finish at the ABN AMRO Champions Trophy, in line with the team's world ranking. 

Speaking about the match afterwards, England assistant coach Bobby Crutchley did not believe the scoreline was a true reflection of the game:  “In the second half we put them under pressure and had some good chances so I don’t think the score really reflects the tightness of the match.

“At the end of an intense tournament we struggled a bit today physically because of where we are in our training programme, which meant we found it hard to get tight enough to Spain on occasions.”

Despite the defeat, some good performances and narrow results have left the coaching team satisfied.  “We’re reasonably pleased,” added Crutchley.  “We’ve a lot of work still to do and we are still behind the other nations but not by a long way which gives us cause for optimism going into the World Cup.”

England’s players will now return home for the start of the indoor season, which includes matches against Scotland before Christmas and the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy in Poznan from 15-17 January.  The 2010 Hero Honda World Cup gets underway in New Delhi, India, on 28 February with England looking to continue their ascent up the world rankings.

In the other classification matches in Melbourne, Korea came from behind to beat the Netherlands 4-2 to win the bronze medal while the Kookaburras reversed a two goal deficit at half time to beat Germany to the gold medal with a 5-3 victory.

Read the full match report at www.englandhockey.co.uk/menschampionstrophy

Watch highlights from the ABN AMRO Champions Trophy on Sky Sports as follows:

06/12/2009 - 17:00 - Sky Sports Xtra
07/12/2009 - 02:00 - Sky Sports Xtra
07/12/2009 - 08:00 - Sky Sports 3
07/12/2009 - 11:00 - Sky Sports Xtra
07/12/2009 - 15:00 - Sky Sports Xtra

See all of England's ABN AMRO Champions Trophy matches on demand at www.englandhockey.co.uk/ehtv