U21 Women Follow Men to Semi Finals

England’s hopes of winning the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships in Poland suffered a knock on Wednesday when the Under 21 Men lost out in strange circumstances to Belgium in their final group match.

Torrential rain all day and all night beforehand left the pitch awash, and it got worse as the game progressed - ultimately leading to the umpire abandoning the clash after 60 minutes.

But the result will still stand, and both England and Belgium progress to the semi finals of the competition on Friday.

“It’s been raining here non-stop for more than 12 hours,” said team manager Andy Halliday. “The local staff made great efforts to clear water off the pitch, but it’s been torrential and the pitch was basically full and there was nowhere for the water to go.

“It was very difficult to play in those conditions and it became a bit of a lottery. The umpire let the game go until 60 minutes so that the result would stand, but for the last few minutes it was just each side in their own half, hitting the ball back and forward.”

England took the lead with Simon Faulkner scoring with a dragged shot in the left corner on 28 minutes, but Belgium hit straight back with captain Simon Gougnard scoring after lobbing the England goalkeeper.

After half time Belgium scored three times in the first 13 minutes, with Florent Van Aubel scoring on 42 and 44 minutes, and Tom Boon added their fourth on 47 minutes.

Mark Edwards pulled one back for England on 52 minutes when he deflected in a reverse stick shot from his Loughborough Students’ team-mate David Beckett, but it was not enough to salvage victory.

** You can see videos and features from the U21 Men's competition on http://fieldhockeytv.com **

In Lille, at the Women's EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships, deep defending from Lithuania made goals hard to come by for England; but they kept their cool and finally prised their way through to secure a victory which looks likely to have given them a semi final clash against Germany on Friday, at 1630 (BST).

“They defended very deep,” explained assistant coach Andy Bradshaw. “At times we struggled to create open chances, but we stayed positive and we worked the openings.

U21 Women EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships action (C) Federico Pestellini“This win is a fair reflection on our overwhelming balance of possession. It’s difficult to play against a side who defend so deeply, but the girls stayed patient and did the job.”

Beeston’s Shona McCallin opened England’s account with a goal on 20 minutes, scoring with a reverse stick shot which came off a Lithuanian defender after England had been attacking down the left.

The score remained unchanged until five minutes from the end, when captain Dilly Newton broke through and scored confidently from a corner routine in the 65th minute.

England look likely to take on Germany in the semi final, unless France can inflict a shock heavy defeat on group leaders Netherlands in tonight’s final group match.

Photograph courtesy of Federico Pestellini

Visit the EuroHockey League's pages for the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships here.

Follow the U21 Men's competition on the official tournament website here.

Watch videos from the U21 Men's competition at http://fieldhockeytv.com

Follow the U21 Women's competition on the official tournament website here.

Keep up with the England Hockey teams via the EHB's Results page here.