• England National Teams

Belgium Earn Revenge In Men's Final Pro League Game

England 0

Belgium 5
de Kerpel (9' PC, 59' FG); de Sloover (40' PC); Hendrickx (57' 59' PCs)

Belgium earned revenge with a victory over England's men at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre; capped off by three goals in the last three minutes when the home side had removed their goalkeeper.

The visitors showed their class in London, although when the dust settles England can take positives from their performances across the world's best side this weekend, especially on Saturday when they took two points from the World and Olympic Champions.

This weekend's results mean that England are set to finish sixth in the nine-team Pro League, unless Spain can defeat Netherlands twice in the final two matches. England end up one point behind Argentina and four off Germany.

After doing a sterling job, Interim Head Coach Zak Jones now passes over to full time appointment Paul Revington, who inherits a team in an upbeat frame of mind before the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer.

England: Payne, Albery, Sloan, Smith, Rushmere, Wallace (C), Goodfield, Condon, D Scott, Ansell, Calnan
Subs (Used): Creed, Gall, Griffiths, Ward, Roper, Turner
Sub (Unused): Mazarelo (GK)

Match report
England won the first corner, and after the initial effort was blocked it fell to Liam Ansell who caught his effort very well but Vincent Vanasch was able to boot it clear. Having scored two crackers on Saturday, Will Calnan was looking to start well and went on a great run that had the crowd purring, only for a Belgian defender to do enough at the last.

However it was Belgium who took the advantage from a penalty corner; Ollie Payne initially saving well only for the ball to be recycled into the path of Nicolas de Kerpel, who turned home.

Payne made another couple of good saves in the second quarter, and the 23-year-old has been in fine form throughout this tournament, growing in stature over recent weeks.

Then came what proved to be a pivotal moment as Sam Ward did brilliantly to create a chance for himself, but Vanasch was out quickly one-on-one and the opportunity passed. England also went close moments before the interval but Belgium were able to stand firm.

After the break Chris Griffiths had another good sight of goal from an aerial pass, but he fired narrowly wide in search of an equaliser.

Then on 40 minutes Belgium got a second goal which proved decisive, and at the risk of sounding slightly churlish there was an element of fortune as the initial corner whacked into the post, falling to Arthur de Sloover whose well-hit effort seemed to take a nick off an English stick, enough to deflect it past Payne for 2-0.

Simon Gougnard then went close to a third goal, and into the final quarter England had no choice but to go for it. Removing Payne with three minutes left, Belgium took advantage on the counter as Alex Hendrickx scored two corners and de Kerpel got one on the break, all into an unguarded net.

So the final goals put a gloss on the scoreline from a Belgian perspective, but of course there is no denying their quality.

In six weeks' time England's men do battle in the Commonwealth Games and they will go into it after a very good learning experience in the Pro League, backed by very supportive crowds at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.