U21s Return with Silver

England’s U21 men returned from Poland this week after winning silver at the Junior Challenge Open in Siemianowice.

David Ralph’s young team began the tournament with a tough opener against Germany.  Late goals from Loughborough Students’ Dominic Bowden and David Beckett were not enough to beat a strong Germany side who led 2-0 at the break and held on for victory.   Despite the 4-2 defeat, there were some encouraging signs late in the game, particularly when David Beckett did well to set up Dominic Bowden to score from close range with 62 minutes on the clock.

England got off the mark against the hosts Poland in game two.  Looked sharper than the previous day, England controlled the first half but let the hosts in after half time to equalise, before a goal with 20 minutes left sealed the points for England.

England dominated the first 20 minutes, and it took them just five minutes to open their account with Brooklands’ Andy Bull scoring with the rebound after his initial shot from a penalty corner was saved.
They doubled their lead on 27 minutes with Birmingham University’s Peter Jackson scoring with a drag flick into the top left corner of the roof after a penalty corner routine. 

After having led by two goals, England found themselves back to square one when Poland equalised with just over 20 minutes remaining.  After conceding the equaliser, England bounced back well and were back in front a minute later; Loughborough’s Marc Edwards’ shot from 12 yards ensured England took all three points.

Germany’s win over France on day two meant that England simply had to avoid defeat by the French but they did better than that anyway, running out 5-1 winners.  Goals from Peter Jackson and full England international David Condon, coupled with a hat-trick from Loughborough Students’ Simon Faulkner, put England through into the final and a re-match with Germany.  France had actually taken the lead in the ninth minute but Faulkner’s first, from a penalty corner, and Jackson’s goal put England 2-1 up at the break.  Faulkner’s second corner and a penalty stroke five minutes from time sandwiched David Condon’s goal on the hour mark to round off a performance that Coach Ralph said he was “pleased with”.

Having lost out 4-2 to Germany in the group stages, England had high hopes of gaining revenge in the final, but despite some good periods of play they went down fighting, losing the match 3-2.

Germany took the lead after 12 minutes when Jonas Swiatek scored from a penalty corner after some sloppy defending from England to give the corner away.  And the Germans went two-nil ahead on 21 minutes through Julian Altenrath, who capitalised on a turnover on half way and counter attacked quickly.

England hit back on 29 minutes. Loughborough’s David Beckett beat two players and forged into the circle, but his shot hit the left post.  However, Will Hearn turned the ball back into the danger area, where Loughborough Students’ David Beckett flicked into the roof of the net.

Germany struck shortly after half time with another counter-attack, this time through Anton Ebeling.

England pulled back a goal on 42 minutes with Simon Faulkner scoring from a penalty corner, low and left of the keeper. They pushed on for an equaliser to send the match into extra time, but Germany defended stoutly and England were frustrated - especially with their four missed penalty corners which cost them dearly.

After the final, Team Manager Andy Halliday said: “We didn’t get out of the blocks early on.  We were punished by the Germany for a lack of discipline and the inability to keep possession, but it was a spirited second half display, and in the end I think we were unfortunate not to force the game into extra time.

“Overall we’re pleased with some of the progress that has been made,” added Halliday. “This has been good preparation for the European Championships in July.”

Next up for the U21 men are matches against the Netherlands at the start of July before they return to Poland for the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships.

See all of the upcoming international fixtures in the fixtures and results pages under England Hockey.