Goals from Gabriel Dabanch, Rob Reckers and Mink van der Weerden ensured a safe passage for MHC Oranje Zwart to the KO8 stage as they eliminated Surbiton on a bad day for English Hockey. With Reading HC and Beeston HC falling earlier on in the day it was left to Todd Williams’ side to salvage some pride for their country. However, facing the newly-crowned Dutch champions at their home ground meant it was always going to be tough.
OZ got off to the perfect start, taking the lead after two minutes. Jelle Galema spun inside the D and although his shot was saved by David Kettle, Dabanch was on hand to beat the goalkeeper with the rebound to get his side off and running.
Kettle showed good anticipation in the early going, moving of his line three times in a short space of time to cut out dangerous crosses from the right as Oranje pushed for the second goal. The second goal of the game did come, in the 17th minute but it went to the English side. Matt Daly cut in well from the right to find Rob Moore. The No13 took a touch to get the ball under control and then beat Mark Jenniskens with a lovely reverse stick strike into the backboard to make it 1-1.
Robert van der Horst showcased his exceptional skill on the ball, driving forwards from deep positions to cause Surbiton plenty of problems but his teammates were not giving his invention the finishes it deserved, Galema in particular blazed a chance over when set up by his captain.
Eight minutes into the second half Michel van de Heuvel’s team took the lead again. Reckers showed good predatory instincts to get in front of the goalkeeper to jab home before Kettle could clear. Surbiton were defending bravely and trying to launch attacks of their own but with 11 minutes remaining the game was all but wrapped up. A series of consecutive penalty corners- the first of the game, were awarded to OZ. Ace drag flicker Van Der Weerden stepped up and crashed one against the woodwork. It was reawarded as the ball had struck the back of the goalkeeper’s stick on its way back out. This time, the Dutch International adjusted his radar and beat Kettle with a fierce flick to the goalkeeper’s left. There was enough time for Surbiton to create one last chance but Matt Daly could only find the side netting from a tight angle after being played in by Ben Tibble.
OZ marched on and will face Real Club de Polo in the KO8 tomorrow evening. Surbiton face an anxious wait to see whether England has enough ranking points to keep their three places in next season’s competition. A bad day for English hockey, indeed.
The thing about these international competitions is that I always forget how much the foreigners like to ruin things.
I get fooled every year.