Euro Hockey League KO8: Bloemendaal 4-1 Beeston.

Two goals from Chris Ciriello combined with a superb defensive display from Bloemendaal saw off the challenge of England’s Beeston Hockey Club and took the Dutch masters into the Final Four.

Bloemendaal have never lost an EHL match against an English side, winning all four of their previous encounters and today they made sure that record stayed firmly intact.

The Dutch side had already threatened George Pinner’s goal with a flowing move involving Ciriello, Rogier Hofman and Roel Bovendeert but the latter was unable to control the final pass with Pinner closing him down.

Beeston fought back and Simon Egerton’s penalty corner was well saved by Jaap Stockmann who was up smartly to turn away the follow up from Oliver Willars.

At the end of the first quarter Bloemendaal got their noses in front. Ciriello took a free hit playing the ball into the circle where Pelle Vos diverted the ball brilliantly into the corner just out of the goalkeeper’s reach.

Beeston forced another penalty corner at the start of the second quarter, but Stockmann denied them again, this time diving low to his right to keep out Adam Dixon. Pinner was called upon at the other end to prevent Stijn Jolie from scoring, Bovendeert showed uncharacteristic profligacy with the rebound going wide.

Pinner was at his best again to save from another deflected effort and a penalty corner from Nick Meijer but Bloemendaal were getting closer.

Then came a sucker punch as two goals in as many minutes in the fourth quarter brought Beeston to their knees. Ciriello scored a penalty corner after a dummy from Wouter Jolie changed the angle enough for him to beat Pinner and the man on the line. Then immediately after, Jolie broke out of defence, found Meijer who returned the ball to him inside the D. The Bloemendaal No.7 hit a revers stick shot through the goalkeeper’s legs and the score was 3-0. It was a splendid goal from Jolie who was outstanding throughout.

Beeston pulled one back with a penalty corner goal from Willars who found the roof of the net after Stockmann had repelled Dixon’s initial effort, but with Beeston pushing for more goals, the side in orange began to find gaps at the back. Pinner was keeping his side in with a chance, but with time running out he had a moment he will want to forget. Trying to make a quick restart and push his side forward, the Bees’ goalkeeper succeeded only in hitting Ben Arnold to concede a penalty corner. Ciriello wrong-footed the goalkeeper with a powerful low flick and that was 4-1 and game over. There was still time for Pinner to make two fantastic saes from Brouwer and Rogier Hofman but Beeston knew they were beaten.

The English side had thrown everything they had at Bloemendaal, but found the Dutch defence to be in splendid form. Teun De Nooijer’s career is prolonged just a little bit longer as his side make the Final Four. Can Bloemendaal ensure he bows out with an EHL winners’ medal come May?

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