Silver for U21 women, fourth for U21 men

England Under 21 women won silver on the final day of the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships in Lille after being beaten 4-1 by a clinical Dutch side.

Clifton’s Harriet Pearce scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot with two minutes remaining but Head Coach Nick Clark said afterwards that “the score was probably a fair reflection of the match”.

Assistant Coach Andy Bradshaw said afterwards: “Ultimately we’re disappointed but unfortunately we were beaten by a better side today.  After a great win over Germany in the semi final we couldn’t raise our play to the standard of yesterday, which was understandable but disappointing.

“Yesterday took a lot out of the girls and after losing the two early goals we were always chasing the game, which because quite difficult.”

The Netherlands had raced into an early lead in just the fifth minute of the game and doubled it with less than a quarter of an hour played.

With England pressing to get back into the match the Dutch extended their lead from a penalty corner in the 43rd minute and they made sure of the outcome on the hour mark.

Despite the score England battled to the end and two minutes from time University of Birmingham’s Sophie Bray did well to round the Netherlands’ goalkeeper.  Just as she was set to pull the trigger on her shot she was fouled by a recovering defender.  The umpire immediately awarded England the penalty stroke and the responsibility fell to Clifton’s Pearce who coolly slotted home for a deserved consolation goal.

England’s second place is a repeat of the 2006 tournament when they finished a silver medalists to Germany in Catania.

In the bronze medal match, Spain beat Germany with an extra time golden goal after the two sides had played out a 1-1 draw over 70 minutes.

England’s Under 21 men went down 4-3 to Germany in the battle for bronze at the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships in Siemianowice Slaskie, Poland, on Saturday afternoon.

Recovering from going 4-1 behind England rallied, scoring twice more to put the Germans under sustained pressure but despite being camped in the German half for most of the second half they failed to find the vital fourth goal.  Despite the defeat, it is England’s best European performance since fourth place in 2004.

Team Manager Andy Halliday said afterwards: “Corners and chances have been the difference but we’ve really improved in the past month.  The players have learned now that the difference between teams at the top level is very small.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve had two very competitive games against the best sides in Europe and have come very close on both occasions.”

England started slowly and found themselves on the back foot for much of the first half as they struggled to transfer the ball effectively.

Goalkeeper Patrick Smith could do nothing about Tobias Matania’s 22nd minute opener as the German fired a powerful penalty corner flick high into the net and Matania doubled Germany’s lead in the 26th as he finished off a flowing move that stretched the length of the field.

Two minutes later Loughborough Students’ David Beckett pulled one back for England as he slotted home a penalty stroke low to the right after a shot had been illegally blocked by a combination of defender’s hand and body on the line.

Two goals conceded in as many second half minutes were to cost England when first Marco Miltkau scored on 38 minutes and then on 39 minutes, Ricardo Nevado finished a delightful German move around the circle.

4-1 down England rediscovered their belief, going on to dominate the remainder of the match with waves of attacking hockey as the Germans began to tire from the exertions of their semi final.

Four English penalty corners came and went before Team Bath Buccaneer John Kinder’s cross from the right was met by Beckett sliding in at the back post to score on his reverse stick.

With 26 minutes still to play University of Birmingham’s Peter Jackson pulled England to within a goal of Germany from a disputed penalty corner.  From the top of the circle Jackson flicked high into the net to bring it back to 4-3.

It was one-way traffic towards the German goal in the final stages but England just could not conjure an equaliser and Germany held on for the bronze medal.

Fourth place is the England U21 men’s best finish at the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships since they lost the 2004 bronze medal match to a Dutch golden goal in Nivelles, Belgium.

See videos from the U21 men's European campaign at http://fieldhockeytv.com 

Visit the European Hockey Federations web pages for the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships. Click here!